The Voyager 1 was launched into space in 1977. Its mission was to explore the outer planets of our solar system, send information back to earth and to continue as long as the technology lasted. By all accounts it has lasted beyond all expectations and in 2012, some 35 years after its journey started, Voyager 1 unexpectedly left our solar system and entered interstellar space. I find this hugely exciting – a man-made space probe boldly travelling into the unknown! Nasa is even giving us real time updates of the Voyager 1 (and the Voyager 2 sent 2 weeks earlier) here!
Now this is fascinating enough, but attached to the hull of the Voyager is a golden record. You can see in the bottom left of the picture below.
On the record is a collection called the sounds of earth. Not just music, but natural sounds of water, animals, weather and other such things. There is also some pictures and directions to earth in the event intelligent life finds this vessel. A board chaired by Carl Sagan took a year to decide on the contents – and – here comes the link to Guqin…
The longest piece of music on the golden record, chosen from the catalogue of mankind’s musical history is… “Flowing Water” (流水) performed on the guqin by the Master Guan Pinghu.
And here it is. (the piece doesn’t start as well as Johny B Good, which is also on the record, but it really delivers in the end. So stick with it!)