How a Bell Labs engineer/artist created the sounds of planetary orbits for the Voyager Golden Record

During the 1960s and 1970s at Bell Labs, the intersection of science and art was rightfully recognized as an extremely fertile ground for creative and technological experimentation. New York City's avant-garde artists collaborated with Bell Labs engineers to develop new tools, technologies, and creative practices that continue to shape our digital world today. It was in Bell Labs' hotbed of digital creativity where composer and software engineer Laurie Spiegel helped make the future of electronic music. Waveshaper TV produced a multi-part interview with Spiegel whose seminal works, including The Expanding Universe, are available in stunning editions from the Unseen Worlds label.

I was particularly excited about Part 2 of the interview with Spiegel, released today and seen above, because it focuses on how she came to contribute an audio manifestation of "Kepler's Harmony of the Worlds" ("Music of the Spheres") to the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials attached to the Voyager I and II space probes launched in 1977. The Golden Record tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science: Earth’s greatest music from myriad peoples and eras, from Bach to Blind Willie Johnson to Chuck Berry, Benin percussion to Solomon Island panpipes. A short segment of Spiegel's "Music of the Spheres" opens the Voyager Record's "Sounds of Earth" segment, a collage of dozens of recordings that represent our planet, from birds and chimpanzees to thunder, a baby's cry, laughter, and a kiss.

Two years ago, my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released the Voyager Golden Record on vinyl for the first time as a lavish box set. Our project's resonance with the public, and the Grammy that we were honored to receive for it, are really a testament to the majesty of the original record and its curators and contributors. It's a stunning compilation that stands the test of time (and space).

The Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Vinyl Box Set and 2xCD-Book edition is available from Ozma Records.