(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘acoustics

“I Got Rhythm”*…

… indeed, as Nina Kraus explains, we all do…

Why do we care about rhythm? It connects us to the world. It plays a role in listening, in language, in understanding speech in noisy places, in walking, and even in our feelings toward one another.

Rhythm is much more than a component of music. Nevertheless, music is probably what first comes to mind when we hear the word rhythm: drumming, jazz, rock and roll, marching bands, street performers with wooden spoons and five-gallon buckets, drum circles, time signatures, stomp-stomp-clap — we will, we will rock you — adventures on the dance floor, beatboxing, incantations, mantras, and prayers. Beyond music, we experience the rhythmic changes of the seasons. Some of us have menstrual cycles. We have circadian rhythms — daily cycles of mental and physical peaks and troughs. Frogs croak rhythmically to attract mates and change their rhythm to signal aggression. Tides, 17-year cicadas, lunar phases, perigees, and apogees are other naturally occurring rhythms. Human-made rhythms include the built world — street grids, traffic lights, crop fields, mowed designs in baseball diamond outfields, the backsplash behind the kitchen counter, spatial patterns in geometric visual art forms.

Maintaining rhythm is almost a biological imperative for some of us…

An exploration of the many ways in which temporal patterns plays an important role in how we perceive — and connect with — the world: “The Extraordinary Ways Rhythm Shapes Our Lives,” at @mitpress.

And for an astounding application of rhythm, the story of Niko Tosa: “The Gambler Who Beat Roulette,” (with no electronic or other help). Via @nextdraft.

* George and Ira Gershwin (The piece [performed by Gershwin here] has become a jazz standard– and gave the world a chord progression– the “rhythm changes“– that provide the foundation for many other popular jazz tunes, including Charlie Parker’s and Dizzy Gillespie’s bebop standard “Anthropology (Thrivin’ on a Riff).”)


As we contemplate cadence, we might recall that it was on this date in 1965 that the Beatles recorded “Help!” The title song of their 1965 film and its soundtrack album, it was released as a single in July of that year, and was number one for three weeks in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The group recorded “Help!” in 12 takes using four-track equipment. The first nine takes concentrated on the instrumental backing. The descending lead guitar riff that precedes each verse proved to be difficult, so by take 4 it was decided to postpone it for an overdub. To guide that later overdub by George, John thumped the beat on his acoustic guitar body, which can be heard in the final stereo mix.

Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 13, 2023 at 1:00 am

“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.”*…


Decode the pictures above– and experience synesthesia– at “This Is What Musical Notes Actually Look Like.”

* Leopold Stokowski


As we move to the music of the spheres, we might send tuneful birthday greetings to Louis Armstrong; he was born on this date in 1901.  A trumpeter, composer, singer (and occasional actor), he was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance, and helping to pioneer scat singing.  Nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, he has 11 records in the Grammy Hall of Fame.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 4, 2016 at 1:01 am

“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


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



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.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

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