Music and Extra-Terrestrials
Article by Pat Boardman
Those reading along in this language, looking out of a pair of eyes as living entities, are in a fortunate state - a stroke of luck has dropped us into a razor-thin slice of time when human life exists on this planet. The advance our species has made over the last hundred years has put us on a path of accelerated evolution and understanding of our potential. It's so infinitely improbable that we're experiencing all of this then it stands to reason that the universe is teeming with life of all kinds and in various stages of sophistication.
Somewhere along the eons of natural selection that culminated in human life, a social practice began - possibly to bind groups into focused communication. This was rhythm, the banging of objects to create a beat that all could share. That beat was a ceremony, a reason to gather and get on the same wavelength. Those who participated in the drumming of sticks on stones were showing each other that they could be clever enough to use the objects for something more than weapons. It was a show of trust.
The nearest musical instrument to a human is a part of the body - the vocal chords. Voices were a natural addition to the rhythmic beat, and the communication form became music. When civilizations advanced they began to make instruments from wood, animal skin, reed, ivory, and metal. Music became organized into pieces and the first humans measuring and expressing the notes of the scale realized that music was discovered, not invented. Music was already a mathematical constant. The creative part had to be applied within the pre-existing framework of the musical scale, and the rules are kind enough that expression is virtually limitless. Put simply, some notes and spaces of melodies moving within chords sound better than others. Intonation and timing can improve the effect of the sound to impress the listeners, to encourage improvement among fellow players, and to gain the interest of the social group.
The primitive thrilling effect of music on humans is one of the greatest enjoyments of our existence on this beautiful planet. Music entertains the nervous system and offers distraction from unpleasant daily activities. The American folk music heritage grew largely from the slave hollers of the cotton fields of the South. Calling out in repetition gave the hard work a sense of camaraderie and a tolerable pace to make the time pass during twelve-hour workdays in the hot sun. The next generations knew the Blues, Gospel, Folk, Jazz, and Bluegrass music.
You would expect aliens to buzz our atmosphere with loudspeakers blazing their favorite music to show off, much like teenagers in a convertible. They remain silent but playful...not particularly military or threatening. Tens of thousands of people have claimed that they were abducted and taken aboard extraterrestrial ships and examined by the aliens. They were implanted with tracking devices in many cases, but none reported being subjected to alien indie music. Human scientists would undoubtedly use a theme of music as one of several ways to try to communicate with a race of aliens - perhaps a strain of Beethoven or Mozart to show our sophistication.
Since our cosmic visitors aren't belting out any hit tunes from whatever planets they hail from, it might be a sign that they are so highly evolved that music is no longer necessary as a mental exercise or entertaining pastime. They might not even have voices; they may be able to transmit thoughts with pure brainpower.
Perhaps we can't hear their music. Our ears can only hear certain frequencies so the range of interpretation is limited. This is certainly so with vision. Many UFOs aren't visible in the spectrum in which we see, but they have been videotaped and photographed by infra-red and ultra-violet camera lenses.
It would be tragic if music became obsolete at some stage of advancement for intelligent life. Although music is narrowly cultural on this planet, some pieces are timeless and hold meaning for everybody. Humans operate on emotion so very much that a life without passion and emotion seems not to be worth living. If the space creatures have music they're doing a good job keeping it a secret. Perhaps they have a portion of consciousness composing music as they go about the daily routine of chasing down, probing and tagging Idaho farmers. It could be the most intricate and beautiful music imaginable to our limited minds or there may be nothing in their thoughts but mathematical matrices and geometric puzzles.
They must have those large eyes for taking in the endless beauty of the universe as they travel between dimensions and explore distances we can never imagine. Sensitive ears are probably not assets in the spaceship environment so I would be surprised to see an alien wailing on a Strat through the windows of a UFO. It would be safe to say we are grungier than any superior life form. That's why we call good music "Earthy".
About the Author
Pat Boardman is a songwriter influenced by Blues, Folk, and Rock music. He uses carefully-crafted lyrics that stand out as a beacon for the music. His work is downloadable at Showcase, Pat Boardman and CD Baby. The Cold River CD features Pat Boardman on guitar, harmonica, piano, and autoharp, with guest Jesse Cook.