This week’s New Scientist has some amazing articles on music.
‘Are animals naturally musical’
reveals that some monkeys really prefer to sit in silence instead of listening to human music of any sort, while birds can learn to differentiate between classical and jazz, whales can perform song cycles up to 21 hours in length and zebra finches and rhesus monkeys can learn to pick out specific melodies.
(link may revert to paying link in a week)
(picture: Sound of colours by Octavian Florescu)
‘Flexible scales and immutable octaves’
discusses how we perceive music when scales and octaves are changed. Scales do seem to be cultural but octaves have an objective acoustic reality that makes them a universal concept (and is probably why some animals can learn to recognise melodies when trasposed). My favourite lines here are from musician Robert Schneider: “When we experience mathematical functions with our ears, we call it sound,” says Schneider. “When the math is particularly elegant and well ordered, we call it music.”
Below is a video from the website of an audio engineer who uses a Wiimote in motion (and his software) to create loop music! Quite amazing I think! (if you are short on time, do fast forward towards the end where the best bits are!) I love the Wii and the Wiimote and hope this will open the door to some amazing applications for the Wii!
We already have some amazing uses. Games are used in nursing homes to get the elderly moving and Wii games are given to young surgeons, apparently the extra dexterity gained during the game translates into more precise movements of the surgeon’s hand during surgery!
Now to something sublime… Rostropovich playing Bach’s cello suit No. 3 Prelude… how amazing that someone puts up footage like this on YouTube…
And finally one of my favourite musical performance pieces, John Cage’s 4m33s in its full orchestral version!!
(Craig says it’s ancient and boring… but I find it a relevant piece and still quite amusing)