GOLDEN RECORDS (BABEL)




(and the whole world had one language and one speech)


In 1977, NASA launched its Voyager program. On board the spacecraft was a golden phonograph, the Voyager Golden Records. The phonograph – containing images and sounds found on earth, as well as recordings of greetings in fifty-five languages and a one hour long recording of the brainwaves of An Druyan – was intended as an interstellar message to any extra-terrestrial or far-future human civilization, documenting life and human existence on earth.

golden records (bable) invites an ensemble of 8 musicians into an imitation game, in which cycles of translations, mutations and interpretations of the original sound material found on the Voyager phonograph unfold a choreography of voices that shift through various gradings of inter-and independence of the musicians’ respective vocabularies aswell as their varying relationships to the score.

The notion of language as both a devisive as well as connecting modulator, finds its analogy in the Tower of Babel narrative.  Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves”

Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.

‘Earlier I had asked Carl if those putative extraterrestrials of a billion years from now could conceivably interpret the brain waves of a meditator. Who knows? A billion years is a long, long time, was his reply. On the chance that it might be possible why don't we give it a try?
Two days after our life-changing phone call, I entered a laboratory at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and was hooked up to a computer that turned all the data from my brain and heart into sound. I had a one-hour mental itinerary of the information I wished to convey. I began by thinking about the history of Earth and the life it sustains. To the best of my abilities I tried to think something of the history of ideas and human social organization. I thought about the predicament that our civilization finds itself in and about the violence and poverty that make this planet a hell for so many of its inhabitants. Toward the end I permitted myself a personal statement of what it was like to fall in love.’

- An Druyan, in the epilogue of Billions and Billions on her experience of recording her brainwaves for the Voyager Golden Records










For two vocalists, Flute, Clarinet in Bb, Cello, Double Bass, Piano and Percussion. 
First performed at the Waterloo Festival London by ensemble x.y, July 2017