archive: Re: SETI Music to ETIs? & More

Re: SETI Music to ETIs? & More

Bruce Cornet ( (no email) )
Sat, 19 Dec 1998 13:49:56 -0500

Dear All,

Regarding ET music or rhythm, I think Walt makes a very valid point. What
we think of as music may only comparable to the 'music' of ET by its
repetitive or developmental sequences. I shared with Scot some sound files
recorded in the field when an AOP flew over me in August 1996 and January
1997. All these sound files are similar, and at first 'hearing' sound like
mechanical sounds. Multiple frequencies begin at a high pitch (and low
volume due to distance), and they all decend in frequency uniformly
throughout the entire sound record. What distinguishes these sounds from
conventional aircraft sounds is that the frequencies violate Doppler's law
(Scot agreed) by showing no 'S'-shaped reversal in frequency as the volume
increases with the passing of the probe. Very strange. Scot said the
sound files appear to be synthetic and therefore created intentionally.

I have been intrigued by these sounds for some time now, and asked Scot for
help in analyzing them. About all we could say and agree upon was that
they did not conform to any sound of a conventional aircraft, and they did
indeed break Doppler's law. How and why they were produced was and is an
enigma to both of us.

In order to relate an example of possible ET music, I must ask your
indulgence into considering the involvement of *elepathy.

Pat, my wife, and I were driving home on the Garden State Parkway back in
1995 when we spotted a bright white light as it neared our van and then
paced our vehicle off to the right side of the highway. I asked Pat is she
thought it might be an AOP, and she said she didn't know. Then she said
something very strange: She said that the pilot was communicating with her
telepathically, and confirming that it was an ET vehicle. I said, "Oh
really! Tell him to come closer for a better look." :-) Of course the
light did not change its course, but continued to pace our van. Then Pat
said that she had just been played some ET music. I said, "What? Why did
that happen?" Pat said, "I asked the pilot mentally what kind of music his
species liked, and I got back a very strange sound." Because I could not
hear what that sound was - it was not played in my mind's ear, I let the
subject drop. No data here.

One day I was playing the sounds I had recorded in the field, and Pat came
into the room. She exclaimed that the cascading frequencies of the AOP was
the exact sound that was played for her in her mind on the GSP. I tell you
this for whatever it's worth. The sound is truly unusual, and not
something we might consider pleasant or musical. But to a mechanical probe
it might just be the equivalent to Beethoven!

Have a wonderful holiday and look forward to more great interaction with
you all this next year.


Walt wrote:
> From: Walt Williams <>
> To: SETI-L Open List <>
> Subject: SETI Music to ETIs? & More
> Date: Saturday, December 19, 1998 3:36 AM
Hello Richard, and Ron,

In the early years of PC computing (pre-Apple/Radio
Shack/IBM) when I was manufacturing these machines and coding in
assembler, at times I would need to 'fix' other people's code. To do
this often required manually decompiling (reverse engineering) the
binary using sid or zsid (guess this means I am a hacker?) to
understand the code and then 'patch it' to fix the code.

Understanding machine process or code which was written by someone
else (another human for a human process) or even the product of a
higher coding language such as 'C' or Pascal/Forth (again for a
human process) which has been compiled to machine code seems to me to
be similar to trying to understand the communications process of
another specie. Machine code; It is non-intuitive, and an alien
language which humans do not directly process. A simple simile, not
really similar.

One may understand the encoding mechanism but not the code, i.e.,
its meaning. It may appear as endless one's and zeros (presuming it
is binary) in apparently infinite patterns until structure is
recognized. To understand the meaning of an apparently abstract
chunk of code, requires understanding the instruction set of the
processor as well as other items such as attendant peripherals and
sensors. People are not computers though this could be likened to
an exobiological entity which "has no ears". How would ET which did
not develop ears, and the requisite associative receptors understand
music? Humans do not process binary code and probably neither do ET.
One of the tests my friend Sy Wong (Ph.D. physics) has suggested for
simulating possible ET contact experiments, would be to assemble text
in some arbitrary simple code, and broadcast it to determine if
'other' colleagues can detect, decipher the coding scheme and the
meaning of the transmission. If it can not done, then something
simpler need be devised or perhaps more obvious. We are not talking
about exotic ciphers here. How many Ham operators trained in
International Morse code could do it? Take the information out of
the sensory/cognition environment in which it was developed and then
attempt to understand the information. Something like 'listening" to
music with an oscilloscope, or watching 22 wpm Morse code optically.

Should computers ever become sentient, as surely Earth's machines
will at some time in the future, perhaps they may develop
algorhythms of pleasure, but could humans ever understand the
meaning? First problem would be sense; how would human intellect
perceive our hypothetical sentient machine's pleasure sequences?
Would we need a parallel port --a possible simple equivalent for
machine 'ears'? But since we are not sentient binary processors
(again presuming some similarity to what we know), could we ever
infer the meaning of the data stream. Perhaps after much work, and
deciphering, testing hypothesis, we may eventually understand that
the stream is not necessary for operation but elective, and it may
never be recognized as pleasure. This all could be possibly be
remedied somewhat if the machines were to decide to help.

Since computers and their future kin, will probably(?) be some
hybrid of synchronous/asynchronous parallel architecture, there will
likely be rhythm beating within their tin-can nano-technology
'hearts'. Music is in part rhythm, but could one perceive a sentient
machine's rhythmic pleasure algorhythms as music if that were what it
were? :^{)

As David Wooley has often said in this list (SETI-L open list), ET
signals/messages may well appear as noise.

I find this description similar to the process of discovering an
abstract (out of context with originator) meaning of something which
humans do not inherently process, and agree with Richard Burke-Ward's
original statement. "If they only had ears".

Best to all this Holiday season, and desiring peace profound.

Walt Williams, FRC, 98.12.18

Woodland Hills, California, USA

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Reply-to: "RonBlue" <>
From: "RonBlue" <>
To: "SETI League" <>
Subject: Re: SETI Music to ETIs?
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 13:34:17 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Burke-Ward <>
>Only if they have ears!

It is possible that ETI could have less senses. For example we can
not see in the five systems of color that birds can. Our anscestors
were night creatures 65 million years ago. We can not see in
ultraviolet which some birds and incest can. We can not see in
infarred like snakes. We can not see in electrical fields like an
electric el. We can not feel radiation like a rat. We can not smell
as well as a dog or rat.

The key concept is that senses allow an organism to learn about its
environment. Psychological research suggest that a stimulus is a
stimulus regardless of source or type. This is true across species.
Remembering that there is no special position in the universe. Laws
and principles remain similar if not identical.

>I may have this wrong, but it seems likely that
>our whole neurobiuology is set up in precisely such a way to resonate
>with rhythmic sound - because speech is a primary function. Equally,
>chickens like music, monkeys do, perhaps all vocalising creatures do.

If I started speaking Chinese to you. Your brain would resonnate to
the sound. The modulations would be almost perfectly correlated. You
would however not likely know what I was saying.

>But it would be interesting to see what effect music had on
>non-vocalising but hearing creatures - say, snakes (vibration-sensing,
>strictly). Of course, music would have no effect on non-hearing

Some people see colors when listening to music. Some people see
colors when reading a document. Colors and music are similar.
You can use music to modulate light and create a light show.

>The broader question is surely, would aliens have an *equivalent* of
>music - a way of modulating signals received by one of their primary
>sense-organs to create non-symbolic structures? And if so, how would
>*that* 'sound' on radio?

Also would it sound slow or fast depending on how their nervous system
uses the information. Ron Blue

>Richard and Valerie Burke-Ward
>26 Edgarley Terrace, London, SW6 6QD, UK
>Home: (+44) 171-731 5496
>Valerie mobile: (+44) 705-020 4565
>Richard work: (+44) 171-736 7662 (Tel/Fax)