Aliens may stumble upon a Bulgarian folk song
Like our region, the following stories may be considered strange, curious, unusual, obscure or bizarre by many; yet we find them fascinating. This series was inspired by QI, a BBC series.
The chances are, although infinitesimally slim, that the intelligent life in space will hear a Bulgarian folk song. Launched in 1977, Voayager 1, a space probe launched by NASA, carries a golden plated disc which includes a recording of “Izel ye Delyo Haydutin (Delyo the Outlaw Has to Go Outside)” sung by Valya Balkanska. The space probe is a sort of message in bottle, and designed to last – possible even outlive the Earth.
That’s Europe. That’s the first people who had enough to eat.
Alan Lomax, one of the great American field collectors of folk music of the 20th century
The song was selected by a team led by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan, a leader of SETI movement amongst other achievements. While the space probe carries a lot of useful scientific data about Earth and humans, according to Sagan “our emotional life is more difficult to communicate, particularly to beings of very different biological make-up. Music, it seemed to me, was at least a creditable attempt to convey human emotions.” When Alan Lomax, who had spent decades building a classified library of virtually all recorded musical styles in the world, first played Delyo’s song sung by Valya Balkanska to Ann Druyan, a writer and late wife of Sagan, she was moved to spontaneous dance. “Do you hear that, honey?” he drawled, grinning and leaning forward. “That’s Europe. That’s the first people who had enough to eat.”
While the song may have been chosen for its emotional charge, the story the song carries also speaks in another way. Delyo was in fact a rebel leader who led rebel detachments united in fighting against Islamisation in the late 17th century. In Balkan folkloric tradition, the hajduk (hajduci or haiduci in the plural) is a romanticised hero figure who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, and often leads his fighters into battle against, the Ottoman or Habsburg authorities. Delyo is glorified as being unkillable by a standard sword or gun, so his enemies cast a silver bullet in order to murder him. In fact several CEE countries have a similar story – Slovak Janosik, Hungarian Betyar, to mention a few.
Nobody really knows where Voyager 1 is right now. On September 12, 2013, NASA announced that Voyager 1 left our Solar System and entered interstellar space. While the chances are that it will be never seen by anyone ‘out there’, perhaps its main point is in what is trying to tell us ‘down here’. The story about the need forhumans to explore and challenge the boundaries. But also about our capability to stand up to the threat and oppression no matter how grim the outlooks might be.
So, to all Aliens out there – watch out!
And to all humans – check out the song here!