Our next issue will feature a piece about the Voyager Golden Record, which was launched into space 35 years ago featuring music, images and messages from Earth. We’ve compiled some of the fun facts that we’ve dug out about the project…
As of 2012, the two Voyager spacecraft became the third and fourth human artifacts to escape entirely from the solar system.
The record includes greetings in 55 human languages and one whale language.
Earth sounds featured include crickets, hyenas, heartbeats, morse code, the first cries of a baby and a kiss.
The trickiest sound to record was, in fact, the kiss. Some were too quiet, others too loud, and at least one was too disingenuous.
The motion picture Starman portrayed the Voyager Golden Record as having been located by an extraterrestrial intelligence who subsequently sent one of their own race to investigate intelligent life on Earth.
After NASA had received criticism over the nudity on the Pioneer plaque (line drawings of a naked man and woman), the agency chose not to allow Sagan and his colleagues to include a photograph of a nude man and woman on the record. Instead, only a silhouette of the couple was included.
Alan Lomax was said to be against the idea of including ‘Johnny B Goode’, arguing that rock music was adolescent. Sagan’s response was said to be: “There are a lot of adolescents on the planet.”
In a Saturday Night Live segment (“Next Week in Review”) in episode 64 of the show’s third season, Steve Martin’s character, a psychic named Cocuwa, predicts that the cover of Time Magazine for the upcoming week will show the four words ‘Send more Chuck Berry,’ which had supposedly been sent from extraterrestrials to Earth the week before.
In an episode of Pinky and the Brain, Brain changes the design of the Golden Disk so that it shows his and Pinky’s body as that of the leaders of Earth. When aliens intercept the disk, they capture Pinky and Brain as pets, thinking them to be the leaders of Earth.
In the speculative nonfiction series Life After People it is stated that, after a million years of travel in interstellar space, the Voyager probes will be so heavily damaged from micrometeoroid impacts that the disks will likely become unreadable. This process will be dependent on the frequency of particle impacts upon the spacecraft in interstellar space.
A key plot element of the 1994 science fiction film Without Warning involves an alien race having intercepted Voyager and relaying part of the UN Secretary-General’s message back to Earth.
The Golden Records also carried an hour-long recording of the brainwaves of Ann Druyan, who would later marry Carl Sagan.
The disc is a plot element of an episode of The West Wing, titled “The Warfare of Genghis Khan”.
One greeting, in Chinese, was “Friends of space, how are you all? Have you eaten yet? Come visit us if you have time.”
The final greeting came from Nick Sagan, son of Carl Sagan, aged six: “Hello from the children of planet Earth.”
The full article on the the Voyager interstellar record will be featured in the next issue, #87 October 2012, on sale August 31.
Photo by Danny Clinch
Chris Thile and his quirky bluegrass cohorts, all disturbingly talented and very much famous in their own rights, rattled through a set-list packed with hits old and new – including ‘Rye Whiskey’, ‘This Girl’ and ‘Movement and Location’ – at Scala in Kings Cross before recording for Later… With Jools Holland a mere few days later.
Each and every member of the band – frontman and mandolin virtuoso Thile, guitarist Chris Eldridge, banjo player Noam Pikelny, violinist Gabe Witcher and bassist and Paul Kowert – appeared to be blown-away by the response of the crowd, who whooped and cheered throughout the gig, clearly showing their appreciation for Thile and Co and what they are doing for the bluegrass scene.
Based out of New York, Punch Brothers, who are said to be Elton John’s favourite band, are currently playing a key and impactful role in the new American acoustic movement.
Each of the individual musicians has crammed plenty of solo work and/or other collaborations in between Punch Brothers commitments. Pikelny has released a second solo disc, Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail, produced by Witcher. Eldridge joined Pikelny on his record and, along with Witcher, on his tour. Kowert has been playing live dates in guitarist Jordan Tice’s trio with hammer dulcimer player Simon Chrisman, with which he released the album The Secret History. The peripatetic Thile, formerly of Nickel Creek, recorded a Grammy–nominated duo set with Brooklyn guitar savant Michael Daves, Sleep with One Eye Open; released The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan (which won a Songlines Music Award for best cross-cultural collaboration); and performed live in London with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau.
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, ushered in a new era on Wednesday when opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi capped a tenacious, decades-long struggle from political prisoner to office holder.
The only daughter of General Aung San, who led Burma to independence, was sworn in as a lawmaker for the first time, a key step in the country’s recent shift toward democracy after decades of repressive military rule.
After two decades of persecution as Myanmar’s most prominent dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her opposition to military rule, and nearly three dozen members of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), took the parliamentary oath of office.
The NLD won 43 of the 44 seats they contested in the April 1 by-elections and will remain a small, though highly symbolic, minority of the parliament. That could change dramatically come the next scheduled elections in 2015 if Burma remains on the path toward democratic reform.
The beautiful country – and it’s previously precarious political situation – remains close to my heart after a visit in January this year, which happened to coincide with Independence Day.
You can read more about my visit to the extraordinary country, and the music that I discovered there, in the current issue of Songlines (#84, June 2012).
Photo by Jed Root
It’s not often that you get the chance to come into contact with one of your own idols, yet alone have an extended discussion with them about everything from the current state of African politics to feminism; human rights and own personal heroes.
In preparation for the Globe Rocker feature in issue #84, I had a chat with Angélique Kidjo while she was in New York on her way to Australia for a gig. As ever, it was nigh impossible to cram everything that she had to say into a one-page piece, especially with someone as wonderfully verbose as Angélique, so I have decided to share with you some bits and pieces that didn’t make the final cut…
On Amy Winehouse and Adele:
“One of my greatest musical loves was Amy Winehouse. She was a great talent and I was so sad when she passed away. I had the chance to meet and hear her sing in the early 2000s and she was just so young and talented. But at the same time you could feel this fragility in her. I don’t know if anyone could have helped her or saved her, but for me, every time, with a talent like that, it’s just a tragedy when we lose them.
“And Adele [showing that no one is immune…] she’s another British talent who is just amazing. She sings wonderfully, she’s so young and yet already she sings right on the note. She’s so in tune, it’s freaking scary and moving.”
On the term ‘world music’:
“I never liked it. It’s always the rich countries that give us different names, so Africa is not a country, it’s the third world. Who decides what is what?
“Africa is the cradle of humanity, therefore if you call it third world, you’re denying where you come from. And it’s the same thing with music.
“In every media we’re talking about Africa and saying Africa is poor. Yet you have so many companies in Africa, they make billions of dollars every year, and yet none of them will stand up and say Africa is not poor. We are raping Africa out of its resources.
“We’re taking anything we can from the Africans, and we are stopping them from being self-sufficient and to stand on both of their feet, and the same thing goes with music. Africa has given so much to the world in music, I mean, blues would not exist… and rock and roll without blues doesn’t exist. But people go on denying to every single citizen of Africa, the right to be and to do whatever they want to do. So my question always is, is colonisation over, or is it still going on?
“Who has the right to dictate our lives? Who has the right to dictate that my music is world music? Who has this right to say I cannot be played on prime time? Who has got the right to decide that? The public is stupid enough not to listen to that, and we have feed the public with crappy music, because that’s the way it goes.”
“I’ve been raised by strong women. My grandmother, my mother, my aunties, taught me being a woman is a great blessing, and you shouldn’t let anyone take that away from you. It doesn’t matter what somebody says, without us there’s no humanity. It doesn’t matter how much a man tries to make you believe that you are under his watch, or under his thumb, he is much more under your thumb than you are, because he can’t live without you. What threat do we pose to men that they have to decide our fate? And they have to decide what we have to do, how we have to dress, how we have to talk? Who gives them that right, it’s not written anywhere that men have to dictate to women; what is it that they are afraid of?
“Denying that right to women is denying the right to yourself, because if you don’t like women, how can you love your children? It doesn’t make sense, the women are the mothers of your children, so if you don’t respect them, you don’t respect yourself, and it’s such a very weird dynamic, and I don’t understand how men can be so disrespectful towards women, and yet call them the mother of their children.”
On human rights:
“The law is weakened by human beings. Laws don’t serve justice, because if you have money, you get away free, even if it’s a sentence, then it is always different from the one that is poor, so this justice system, does it work for everybody or for just some people that play around with it?
“The same thing goes with human rights; does human rights apply to everybody, if yes, how can the rich countries justify what they do in Africa, knowing that what they are doing will jeopardise of the most vulnerable people, the women and the children?”
For the full feature, see our next issue (June 2012 #84) on sale April 27.