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Hello From the Planet Earth

Our planet, (and that pronoun is plural, not one person owns it) is the topic of many conversations and discussions these days. It is beautiful and precious. During the recent 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, my memories of the Apollo program surfaced and how the first photo taken by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, known as “Earthrise,” immediately impressed upon us Earthlings how precious it is.

The manned space program continued for a few more years, but other unmanned operations were launched with a mission to explore our solar system, and then leave the neighborhood…forever.  This was the Voyager program, and Voyager 1 launched on this day, September 5, in 1977.

These probes had work to perform and provided valuable data, enriching our knowledge base.  But, just in case they met someone, some other life form after they left our solar system, scientists put together a gold audio-visual disc on each craft.  There was a limited amount of space on these discs, so how can you encapsulate what is representative of our planet?  It includes sounds, languages, photos, and of course music.  If you had to send music out of the solar system to the universe, what would you choose?

The committee included 27 musical examples.  This seems very limited, but when you’re editing a planet’s repertoire, you have to make a cut somewhere!

Here are some titles included on the Voyager record that are also available in the NLS Music Section collection.  Braille and/or audio formats are included with each listing.

Bach, J.S. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, first movement, full score (BRM 29863) (DBM 01542, DBM 02877)

Bach, J.S. “Gavotte en rondeaux” from the Partita No. 3 in E major for Violin, (BRM 26133, BRM 32997, BRM 03284, BRM 26080, BRM 15473 (piano), BRM 35646 (guitar), BRM 24452 (guitar)

Bach, J.S. Well Tempered Clavier, Book 2, Prelude and Fugue in C, No. 1 (BRM 00040, vol. 1) (BRM 36317, vol. 1)

Beethoven, Fifth Symphony, First Movement, BRM 00061 (piano four hands), BRM 35188, DBM 00705

Beethoven, String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat, op. 130, Cavatina (BRM 26094) arranged for violin and piano, (DBM 03760)

Berry, Chuck “Johnny B. Goode”, PMLS No. 32 (BRM 29198), BRM 28382) (piano version), DBM 02322, DBM 02025

Mozart, The Magic Flute, Queen of the Night aria, no. 14, (BRM 36624) vocal score outline, (DBM 03428, DBM 03560)

Stravinsky, Rite of Spring, Sacrificial Dance, (BRM 29704) piano duet, (DBM 03563)

Also included was “Dark Was the Night,” performed by Blind Willie Johnson.  NLS Music Braille music proofreader Gilbert Busch provided us with information about Mr. Johnson earlier this year.

Next time you listen to your favorite piece of music, consider this: you may not be alone (in the universe) as you enjoy it.