С днем рождения, Спутник!

In 2001, the Plains Art Museum held an exhibition called “Darker Shades of Red“, which was an exhibit of Soviet propaganda and state-sponsored social realist painting. Among the artifacts was this object, which was under glass. It is a small music box in the shape of the Sputnik satellite. In both scenarios (on the web and in the museum) the music/sound remained a mystery- described only in text. I was immediately curious about what it sounded like — what tune creaked forth from the crazed plastic base. In 2005, I got in touch with the NASM curator and asked for a recording of the Sputnik music box. If you’d like to hear what I’d been waiting to hear for three years, here ’tis:


The tune is “Le Internationale” and the beeps are, you guessed it, the beeps of Sputnik. Which may be the most magical implementation of a music box mechanism, ever. Even more interesting is how the tune is out of tune, so that the Sputnik notes are dead on.

Curious about what the real Sputnik sounded like?

Thank you, Cathleen S. Lewis, for taking the time to make that sound available.

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