Music For Alien Civilizations


Music for Alien Civilisations asks the question: can music express all of the magnificence that is humanity? Our collected knowledge, our history and our dreams. We want to use music to present an image to life forms in other solar systems of who we earthlings are, while at the same time express our interest in making contact.

We know nothing of beings in other worlds, if they even exist, or how we should communicate with them. Music, we assume, is something universal that can be understood by everyone. Just as with fundamental mathematics. Whether all music in the universe is built upon the intervals and harmonic sequences that is the basis for our music, we will never know. But we can guess. And we can, as did many great composers through the centuries, search for the greatness in music that expresses how fantastic we humans are. If that is even what we want to express.

Ten of Sweden’s best artists within electronica were given the assignment of creating music for alien civilisations. During the spring of 2008, one contribution was presented per broadcast of the radio program Ström on P2. Two participating members of Ström, Håkan Lidbo and Andreas Tilliander, have created their own pieces that only exist on this CD. Unique music that really is not meant for human ears -- but for beings in unknown worlds.

On June 4th, 2008, the music on this album was broadcasted from the space station Esrange in Kiruna, in cooperation with the Swedish Space Corporation. Radio waves were sent toward the star Epsilon Indi A, which is located eleven light years away from Earth. If someone exists who has measuring instruments sufficient to separate our signal from the radio waves sent by the sun, and if someone actually listens in our direction then we hope to receive an answer sometime around 2030.

Håkan Lidbo -- Earth

From TV4 news. Lecture at The Pufendorf Institute at the University of Lund in May 2011. Interstellar communication, astrobiology and astrosemiotics:

About the artists and the music

Intro is a synthetic voice that reads aloud the coded message that Sol Anderson has added to her music. The human race, our origins in the universe and our will to make contact is presented.

Sol Anderson has built her piece of music with a collage of rhythms, because she believes that they are more universal than melodies and harmonies. Rhythms are bound together by human sound. No words, but rather the sound of a human when she loses control: laughter, tears and lust. Sol has even added a quick code using the binary number system, in which a note represents a zero, and another represents a one.

Ghostfriend is Krister Linder who has create music around a speech given by the Indian chief Oren Lyons. A speech, written in collaboration Hans Hassle, that Lyons gave in 2000 at a peace conference where the majority of Earth’s indigenous peoples were represented. It was a speech supported by all these peoples.  An appeal for reason in these times when human civilisation is threatened by impending climate changes, conflicts and injustice. Krister, on this recording representing Plantagon (an organisation of indigenous peoples) feels that this is the most important and worthwhile message that he can sent out into space. Maybe as a memory of humanity and that which soon will be our demise.,

Mokira is Andreas Tilliander’s alias when he makes minimalistic and ambient music. In this piece, it’s the first time his two musical identities ”cooperate”. This music is simply an example of how music from Earth can sound. If it is only us, the humans on Earth who create music, and no one else, and a space alien should look up the word ”music” in a galactic encyclopedia, then this is how it would sound. This piece of music ends with a simple 12-note scale, which is the most common to make music with, at least during the present age in the Western world. The scale also shows an extraterrestrial listener roughly within which frequences human hearing functions.

Håkan Lidbo has created a condensed musical description of the history of the Earth and humankind. Music can be understood by all people on Earth, iregardless of culture, and it can never be misunderstood. Therefore, music is most appropriate to send out to space as a presentation of humans. The middle section of the piece, which illustrates how our civilisation has been built, is an inferno of music from all genres, on all artistic levels and from every corner of the Earth. It is also an expression for humankind’s essential need to express itself musically, artistically and emotionally.

Smyglyssna, otherwise known as Henrik Johansson, chose between making music with water sounds or piano sounds. Simply because he thinks it is beautiful. Henrik thinks that representing all people in one piece of music is an impossible task. He has therefore chosen to use his own taste and feeling as a starting point. He hopes that other civilisations will perceive the piece as sounding as beautiful and peaceful as human ears are find it.

18000018018018401 and Hab is Karin Holmgren and Hans Carlsson who work with the media project, The Konference. They work for sustainable consumption and an increased understanding of the consequences of globalisation and climate change. They want to present a broken Earth, unjust and male-dominated, and not a beautified image of our planet as a deomocratic, hi-tech utopia. They are counting on a just and intelligent civilisation being able to decipher the spoken language in their music and understanding it as a cry för help.

Johannes Wikström calls himself Yourhighness when he makes music. He has tried to collect all of human history, culture and knowledge in the music. At the same time, he has been inspired by space and tried to catch the sound of the expansion and development of the universe. He sings the choral pieces himself and wants to express a lament or cry for help from our civilisation.

Johan Fotmeijer fantisizes about the possibility that advanced civilisations on other planets have already sent signals to us on Earth. A sort of thought transmission with knowledge as an attachment, or a seed creating thoughts and ideas. Maybe it was such a signal that once inspired humans to take the step to build civilisations; and maybe music is proof of that, a product of this implanted idea. Otherwise, why is music such a fundamental part of humanity? Johan thinks that we should send music to alien civilisations as a sign that we humans have now reached this insight. Now it is time to respond.

Olof Dreijer has connected cords directly into the mechanics of the computer and recorded the sound of circuit boards and hard drives at work. He wants to send a sonic postcard from Earth describing our life right now: masses of computers exchanging information and money, while the humans are excluded from all this information.

Mathtiiaas Rosén’s piece is a sort of map over a civilisation’s development. He ponders whether civilisations in the universe are like Christmas tree lights that blink without lighting up simultaneously. According to Mathtiiaas, the number of civilisations in the universe is a constant, just as with quantum energy. He is completely uninterested in space travel and interstellar communication. When he makes music, he often searches for bugs in the machines, and provokes faults in the electronics in order to find the ”machines’ free will”

Henrik Rylander has taken his inspiration from an image of a man and a woman who followed along on Pioneer 10 and 11, which were the first space shuttles that left our solar system. Henrik has transformed the image into sound using a software program, and then built his composition from that sound. But he has manipulated the image. The humans are green with blue hair and make a Vulcan greeting as in Star Trek. Henrik wants to trick the recipients of the message, because he thinks that one of humankind’s most obvious qualities is that we are dishonest and distort information.

Tobias Von Hofsten, who calles himself One, normally makes techno and electro, but this time has only used drums that he has built according to the Sami shamanic tradition. This music is a drum journey in which the listener is guided into a trance that connects with the subconscious, and the spirits and animal guides that can provide assistance. He does not see his piece of music as a greeting from humankind, but from the planet Earth, which according to Tobias is a living being that we humans are all a part of.

An animation from the party where we celebrated the release of the CD and the transmission of the signal.