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Posts Tagged ‘music

“I am sure my music has a taste of codfish in it”*…

 

High-frequency sounds enhance the sweetness in food, while low frequencies bring out the bitterness.  So, could sound replace sugar? And what kind of music should restaurants play?  The Guardian digs in…

Sound is the final frontier in food presentation. Restaurants agonise over menus, crockery, furniture and lighting, yet often any old CD will be stuck on for background music with nary a thought. However, now that we’re starting to understand that everyone has synaesthetic tendencies when it comes to taste, sound is set to play a bigger part in our eating experience. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, is considering a sonic range of ice-cream flavours, with QR codes on the tubs that will allow eaters to access complementary sounds via their phones…

Confirming the hunches of so many ravenous aeroplane passengers, a study published in 2011 found that loud background noise suppresses saltiness, sweetness and overall enjoyment of food. (For flyers, this is compounded by the high altitude blocking nasal passages, and therefore access to aromas.) Incidentally, for those among you who curse that you can’t hear yourself think, or indeed taste, in some restaurants, it isn’t unheard of for the background din to register 90db, which is a tad louder than commercial flights.

However, Charles Spence, director of Oxford’s Crossmodal Laboratory, points out: “Have you ever noticed how many people ask for a bloody mary or tomato juice from the drinks trolley on aeroplanes? The air stewards have, and when you ask the people who order, they tell you that they rarely order such a drink at any other time.” Spence reckons this is because umami may be immune to noise suppression. If he proves his hypothesis, perhaps concentrating on umami-rich ingredients such as tomatoes, parmesan, mushrooms and cured meats in the sky could help obliterate plane-food hell…

Much, much more at “How sound affects the taste of our food.”

* Edvard Grieg

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As we slip on our headphones, we might spare a thought for Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni; he died on this date in 1827.  Widely regarded as “the father of acoustics,” he built on the work of Robert Hooke to create “Chladni figures,” demonstrations of complex patterns of vibration; variations of this technique are still commonly used in the design and construction of acoustic instruments like violins, guitars, and cellos.

Creating Chladni figures

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Chladni measured the speed of sound in various gases by determining the pitch of the note of an organ pipe filled with each gas, and determined the speed of sound in solids using analysis of the nodal pattern in standing-wave vibrations in long rods.

Chladni was an accomplished musician (and inventor of he musical instrument called “Euphon“), and fathered another science–  meteoritics– when, in 1794, he published Über den Ursprung der von Pallas gefundenen und anderer ihr ähnlicher Eisenmassen und über einige damit in Verbindung stehende Naturerscheinungen (“On the Origin of the Pallas Iron and Others Similar to it, and on Some Associated Natural Phenomena”) in which he proposed that meteorites have an extraterrestrial origin.

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Written by LW

April 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

“I confess, I do not believe in time”*…

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The automatic analysis of sentiment in text is fast changing the way we interpret and interact with words. On Twitter, for example, researchers have begun to gauge the mood of entire nations by analysing the emotional content of the tweets people generate.

In the same way, other researchers have started to measure the “emotional temperature” of novels by counting the density of words associated with the eight basic emotions of anticipation, anger, joy, fear, disgust, sadness, surprise and trust.

All this automation is possible thanks to new databases that rate words according to their emotional value.

Now Hannah Davis at New York University and Saif Mohammad at the National Research Council Canada have gone a step further. These guys have used the same kind of analysis to measure the way the emotional temperature changes throughout a novels and then automatically generated music that reflects these moods and how they evolve throughout the book.

They say their new algorithm, TransProse, will change the way we interact with information. “The work has applications in information visualization, in creating audio-visual e-books, and in developing music apps,” they say…

Judge for yourself:  read on at “The Music Composed By An Algorithm Analysing The World’s Best Novels“; check out the research at arXiv.org; and then listen to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Lord of the Flies, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and A Clockwork Orange.

* Vladimir Nabokov, novelist and noted “sufferer” of synaesthesia

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As we hum along, we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that D.H. Lawrence, writing to Aldous Huxley, judged prolific non-fiction author and novelist Arnold Bennett “a pig in clover.”  Exactly three years later, on this date in 1931, Bennett died of typhoid at age 64, after drinking water in a Paris hotel to demonstrate to companions that it was safe.

The next night Virginia Woolf noted in her diary, “Queer how one regrets the dispersal of anybody…who had direct contact with life — for he abused me; & yet I rather wished him to go on abusing me; & me abusing him.”

Arnold Bennett

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Written by LW

March 27, 2014 at 1:01 am

“I didn’t have to work anymore in life when the rappers started sampling… I’m the most sampled artist in history”*…

A big part of making music is the discovery aspect, is the surprise aspect. That’s why I think I’ll always love sampling. Because it involves combining the music fandom: collecting, searching, discovering music history, and artifacts of recording that you may not have known existed and you just kind of unlock parts of your brain, you know?
- Gotye

From Jonny Wilson– aka Eclectic Method

email readers click here for video

* Rick James

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As we muse on mash-ups, we might recall that it was on this date in 1878 that the modern music business was effectively born: Thomas Edison was awarded U.S. Patent No. 200,521 for his invention, the phonograph.

Thomas Edison with his phonograph, photographed by Mathew Brady in Washington, April 1878

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Written by LW

February 19, 2014 at 1:01 am

The Annals of Popular Culture: B is for Bieber…

 

Justin Bieber, the Internet’s hatchling, has left the nest, preparing to spread his swaggy wings and be fly…

Serious artist Justin Bieber—amid the scurrilous rumors spread by a provincial gutter press, based on their narrow-minded adherence to photographs and words—recently announced his retirement from music, signaling his embarking on a new career in broader, even more obnoxious forms of art.

Of late, Bieber’s more confrontational, avant-garde explorations in being irritating have included: peeing in a mop bucket, challenging the conventional notion of mop buckets not having some kid’s piss in them; spray-painting monkey and penguin graffiti, representing the idea that celebrities are trapped just like zoo animals, and also that Justin Bieber thinks penguins are dope; and haunting a Brazilian brothel dressed as a spooky ghost, a stand-in for the lingering specter of society’s prudishness about prostitution, and the classic Freudian connection between death and banging bitches. It also included not actually retiring from music, his most antagonistic artistic statement yet…

Read on at “Justin Bieber symbolically signals his artistic rebirth by egging his neighbor’s house.”

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As we reconsider our positions on the High vs. Low debate, we might send nostalgic birthday greetings to A.A. Milne; he was born on this date in 1882.  Milne spent the earliest years of his career as a playwright, screenwriter, and the author of a single mystery novel, but is remembered for the two volumes of Winnie-the-Pooh stories he wrote for (and featuring) his son, Christopher Robin.  His transitional work, written immediately after the birth of his son, was a book of children’s verse, When We Were Young, famously ornamented by Punch illustrator E. H. Shepard.

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Written by LW

January 18, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true…”*

 

It is not just an artist’s work, but their personalities — inadvertent, performative, implied, affected, whatever — by which an overall narrative, or “personal brand,” of the artist is measured, which invariably informs how the art is perceived. Do likeable people make likeable art, and vice versa? Is it better to be an arrogant genius than a modest one? At what point is arrogance reasonable? One hates to reduce art-making to the two binaries presented, but this seems to be the case: What you think of yourself, and what others think of you… this is all grossly subjective and was distractedly assembled while this contributor was at work, in a cast (broken hand, bike accident), with low blood sugar due to manorexic tendencies (no breakfast, salad for lunch), and I know there’s not enough women and minorities represented, and that this is all rather mainstream, so if you point that out, I’ll know that you didn’t finish reading this ¶. Cheers, to the people who touch us.

Jimmy Chen in “Artistic Temperaments

* John Steinbeck

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As we take our geniuses as we find them, we might send a birthday reminder that “just because one’s paranoid, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t after you” to Philip Kindred Dick; he was born on this date in 1928.  The author of 44 novels and over 120 short stories, PKD, as his now-legion fans know him, won every major award available to the science fiction writer during his lifetime, but barely scratched together a living.  It was only after his death in 1982 that his work was picked up by Hollywood; ten popular films based on his works have been produced (so far), including Blade RunnerTotal Recall (twice), A Scanner DarklyMinority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau.  In 2007, he became the first sc-fi writer to be included in the Library of America series.

PKD’s influence on literary and cinematic science fiction, and on popular culture in general, has been monumental.  But he has admirers within the ranks of philosophy as well, among them,  Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson, Laurence Rickels, and Slavoj Žižek.  Writing of Dick’s evocation of postmodernity, Baudrillard observed…

It is hyperreal. It is a universe of simulation, which is something altogether different. And this is so not because Dick speaks specifically of simulacra. SF has always done so, but it has always played upon the double, on artificial replication or imaginary duplication, whereas here the double has disappeared. There is no more double; one is always already in the other world, an other world which is not another, without mirrors or projection or utopias as means for reflection. The simulation is impassable, unsurpassable, checkmated, without exteriority. We can no longer move “through the mirror” to the other side, as we could during the golden age of transcendence.

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Written by LW

December 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

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