Extraterrestrial DJs: spinning tunes for the stars

On the chance that someone is out there, NASA approved the placement of a phonograph record on each of the Voyager spacecraft. Credit: NASA

Would extraterrestrials like to listen to our music? Probably not, if we remember the 1996 movie Mars Attacks!, in which the malicious aliens are destroyed by the “Indian Love Call” sung by the yodeling cowboy Slim Whitman.

But even if intelligent beings on other planets can’t enjoy the sounds we create, they still might be curious to know what pleases our aural appendages. Doug Vakoch of the SETI Institute believes music might identify us – on physical as well as cultural grounds – for aliens that don’t know us from Luke Skywalker and the bulb-headed Catina Band musicians on the planet Tatooine.

Vakoch has collaborated with music composer Andrew Kaiser of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to create musical messages that might one day be sent to distant worlds. Their work is in harmony with other cosmic communication efforts, like the Voyager Golden Record and "The First Theremin Concert for Aliens," that have already been lofted into space.

This podcast reviews the efforts of these Extraterrestrial DJs.