Category Archives: music

the music of spiders.

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spider music

The humble spider has always been well represented in the musical world, from Ziggy Stardust to the Who and Wilco. For too long, though, we’ve refused to let them relate their experiences to us more directly. That’s now changed, thanks to the work of scientists who are turning spiders’ vibration-based perceptions into music.

Vice recently profiled the work of MIT engineering professor Markus Buehler, who leads a team that’s working to translate web vibrations into sounds we can actually hear. The project uses “the physics of spiderwebs to assign audible tones to a given string’s unique tension and vibration” through a process called data sonification.

The resulting models can be explored through virtual reality software or listened to via examples recorded by Buehler and his collaborator Tomas Saraceno. The music created by manipulating the models is incredible—an eerie approximation of how spiders understand their environments.

Buehler says that the project’s goal is both to “expand how we generate sound in music and how we compose music” and to practically demonstrate how “for something like a spider, there’s a whole different way of experiencing the world.”

“Researchers say the project could eventually be used to reverse engineer spiders’ reality and communicate with the arachnids,” Vice explains, somewhat ominously. Buehler elaborates, saying that he’s planning to play AI-generated spider sounds to the creatures and “gauge [their] reactions.”

For more on Markus Buehler And The Spiders From Earth, read the full article.

 

“is there anything more beautiful and protective than the simple complexity of a spider’s web?”

-e.b. white, Charlotte’s Web

 

 

 

source credits: Reid McCarter, Michelle Bender, Vice

life is a mix tape.

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Lou Ottens, the Dutch inventor of the cassette tape, has died at home in the Netherlands, at the age of 94, his family has confirmed to CNN.  An estimated 200 billion cassette tapes have been sold worldwide, according to Philips, the company he began working for in 1952. Ottens also supervised the team that developed the compact disc (CD). Ottens was described by Olga Coolen, director of the Philips Museum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, as an “extraordinary man who loved technology.”

Ottens cut a block of wood that would fit into the side of his jacket pocket to find an ideal size for the new carrier. The block became the model after which the first portable cassette recorder was made, said Philips. Remarkably, his wooden prototype was later lost when used to prop up his jack while changing a flat tire.

In 1963, the development of the cassette and the playback device had done so well that they were presented at the Internationale Funkausstellung, a trade exhibition for audio products in Berlin. Guests from Japan were inspired by his invention and the cassette was quickly copied by Japanese manufacturers into a different format and sold onto the Japanese market. The cassette recorder was a huge hit around the world, but particularly with young people in the 1960s – 1980s.

The device helped capture iconic sounds, according to Philips, as recounted by Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, who wrote in his 2010 autobiography “Life”: “I wrote the song ‘Satisfaction’ in my sleep. I didn’t know at all that I had recorded it, the song only exists thank God to the little Philips cassette recorder. I looked at it in the morning — I knew I had put a new tape in the night before — but it was at the very end. Apparently, I had recorded something. I rewound and then ‘Satisfaction’ sounded … and then 40 minutes of snoring.”

In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the cassette tape, a special exhibition was created to honor Ottens’ work at the Philips Museum. The first-ever cassette recorder still lies on display as “a testimony to his foresight and innovation,” Coolen, in a statement to CNN, added that his extraordinary inventions had “humble beginnings.”

“life is a mix tape.”

-author unknown

what songs would be on the mix tape of your life?”

 

story credit: CNN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


dark side of the moon.

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sitting

in total darkness

 absolute silence

very slowly

one by one

notes

chords

pinpoints of light 

pierced the air

  sitting in my seat 

48 years ago

in detroit

pink floyd

unfolded their new album

dark side of the moon 

right before my eyes and ears

in real time

playing full out

the crowd

mesmerized 

just taking it all in

vibrating

then roaring in appreciation

one of my most memorable live concert experiences ever.

 

“it was like being in the eye of a hurricane. you’d wake up in a concert and think – wow how did i get here?”

-john lennon

 

48 years ago Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon.

It remained in the US charts from 1973 to 1988, longer than any other album in history.

 

album cover photo: harvest records

poetic.

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last weekend

at the 44th annual ann arbor folk festival

 5 live streamed hours on saturday night

every kind of music and performance

big and small

i once again

heard beautiful poems played

by my favorite pianist

george winston

whose song ‘thanksgiving’ i heard for the very first time

many years ago on the radio while on a road trip to toronto

having no idea who it was or what the song was

 being very moved by it

not knowing if i’d ever hear it again

  serendipity stepped in

when driving back home

with a windham hill artists’ compilation cd

an unexpected gift from my host

on which he was a featured artist playing that very song.

“music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.”

-pablo casals

wild sounds.

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on the last day before our winter break

the instruments waited patiently

for the children

who would soon come 

  to begin their day

by happily making music.

 

“music is nothing else but wild sounds civilized into time and tune.”

-thomas fuller

soundtrack.

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i had just recently become a pre-teen

this was the

top hits playlist

of the week

on our local station

i can hear most of them still in my mind

how things change in half a century

how they stay the same. 

 

“music is the soundtrack of your life.”

-dick clark

 

hum.

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Now you can hum to search Google for songs you can’t remember, but can’t forget. If you’ve ever had a song stuck in your head but can’t remember enough lyrics to search for it, Google has a solution: hum to search.

Google unveiled a new search feature Thursday that lets users search for songs by humming a few bars, in an attempt to help you identify music. This is now part of Google’s mobile app and Google Assistant, where you can say “what’s this song?” (add a “Hey Google” first on Google Assistant) and then hum, whistle, or sing for 10 to 15 seconds. The results will include several probable songs, along with the search engine’s estimation of how likely it is that each is the one you’re looking for.

Google said the feature will be available first in English on Apple’s iOS and in over 20 languages on Google’s Android mobile platform. Users don’t need to have perfect pitch in order to get the feature to work, according to Google.

Hum-to-search isn’t a brand new idea, though it is new to Google. Like many of Google’s search offerings, the feature uses machine learning: Essentially, software analyzes the tune you hum (or sing or whistle), turning it into a sequence of digits that can then be compared with tons of digitized songs to find a few that appear similar. The company has been working on using artificial intelligence for music recognition for a number of years.

The feature may be in high demand:  Google’s vice president who introduced it during Google’s streamed event on Thursday, said people ask Google “what song is playing” nearly 100 million times each month.

“but you make me sing like a guitar humming…”

-neil diamond

Credit: Rachel Metz, CNN Business

rhythm and music.

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from the rhythm and music section of my baby book:

“loves to hear record player going or any music at 15 months.

attempts to dance to it and complains when music stops.”

not one part of this has changed except for my age.  

 

“music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.”

-plato

i know…

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setting up spotify

there were many choices

this one or that one?

more of this or less of this?

pass by or play?

i thought i had a cool, eclectic, quirky sense of taste in music

until it was spelled out for me with some such statement:

“it seems like you’ve selected almost all 70s and 80s music.

you’re obviously most drawn to the music of these decades.

we’ll be customizing your playlist to reflect your taste.

what? called out by spotify? did i know that?

did i know that, but was in denial?

did i think i was cooler than i really am?

was spotify judging me?

while i do like a huge range of music

(especially the irish bards and americana)

it’s clear where my musical heart lies.

my taste in music ranges from 

“here, listen to this”

to

” i know, please don’t judge me.”

(author unknown)