Intragalactic Radio

by Forest Saints

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Voyager 1 is a space probe which was launched by NASA on September 5, 1977. On August 25, 2012, it became the first spacecraft to cross the heliopause and enter the interstellar space. The most distant of all man-made objects, Voyager 1 continues to communicate with the Deep Space Network, receiving routine commands and transmitting data to Earth.*

On October 23, 2017, Voyager 1 began transmitting to Earth radio signals it was intercepting out in interstellar space. These radio signals were determined, after much analysis, to be emanating from a host of different solar systems. In fact, the signals were able to be traced back to specific exoplanets.

Voyager 1 has captured the first signals of intragalactic radio. Specifically, Voyager 1 has captured what can be described as the first sounds humans have heard of alien music. All of these sounds were determined to originate from within our galaxy, the Milky Way.

It must be pointed out that the word “music” is being used with great liberty. It makes sense to view these sounds, completely novel to human ears, through the same lens which ethnomusicologists use to study the sounds of different Earth cultures. Our interpretation of these sounds is grossly colored by our own ethnocentric experience. This can lead one to wholly misunderstand and erroneously categorize sounds as music as opposed to, say, communication or speech. As Tim Ingold, for instance, describes in, “Companion Encyclopedia of Anthropology: Humanity, Culture, and Social Life,”Thus some people may classify as ‘speech’ what other people classify as ‘song.’ The Suyá, for example, performed a type of ‘speech’ that was in fact more melodic than some of their ‘music.’ But they consistently corrected me when I referred to that genre by the term for song/music/dance …. An outsider may interpret a dance as a gesture, or music as noise, or exactly the opposite.”

Therefore, it must be stated that we have no context whatsoever to determine what function these sounds serve. To call them music, as opposed to noise, sound, or speech, is completely arbitrary. In fact, it is impossible to determine whether or not they are being heard in their intended state. As there is no reference point, one cannot determine if the sounds heard are distorted due to atmospheric conditions, transmission interferences, receptor overload, or any other unknown conditions. Whether or not these sounds are being heard in their original, pristine condition is wholly undetermined. It is also nearly impossible to determine if the sounds heard together were intended to be heard as such; whether or not there was any sort of overlap, crossover, or signal-mixing is essentially impossible to determine.

Any discussion about the lifeforms which may have produced these sounds would be based purely on conjecture and again, an ethnocentric view. It is impossible to determine what form these beings might take, how many limbs they might have, how they breathe, etc. Some have attempted to propose possible portraits of these creatures based on the performances heard in the sounds, but this is pure speculation.

In conclusion, what we are offering in this collection are the first known sounds to be detected by humans that were not made by any Earth-bound life form.

[*The radio communication system of Voyager 1 was designed to be used up to and beyond the limits of the Solar System. The communication system includes a 3.7-meter (12 ft) diameter high gain Cassegrain antenna to send and receive radio waves via the three Deep Space Network stations on the Earth.[17] The craft normally transmits data to Earth over Deep Space Network Channel 18, using a frequency of either 2.3 GHz or 8.4 GHz, while signals from Earth to Voyager are transmitted at 2.1 GHz. When Voyager 1 is unable to communicate directly with the Earth, its digital tape recorder (DTR) can record about 64 kilobytes of data for transmission at another time. Signals from Voyager 1 take over 19 hours to reach Earth.]


released May 28, 2019

Unknown lifeforms, as collected and processed by Forest Saints


all rights reserved



Forest Saints Springfield, Illinois

Forest Saints is the psych-prog folktronica musical project of Mark Schwartz.

Schwartz also releases garage rock albums as Demons on Wheels, and he records modern folk as Tin Ghost.

Schwartz' solo experimental guitar CD, "The Black Oil," is carried by the ReR label.

Mark is a member of the freejazz ensemble, End Times Trio. Their CD, "Fracture Time," (Fire & Flux) is available on CDBaby.
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