Tag Archives: Science

The dervish sound dress

The dervish sound dress is a piece of wearable technology inspired by the sacred experience of the whirling dervishes of Turkey.

The garment is a body instrument that emits musical sounds when the wearer moves in it, as well as triggering a haptic vibration response. It emulates the vibrations that are felt while a musician plays an instrument, and the emotional response that the musician and a performer such as a dervish feels.

The construction of the dress involves a variety of sensors that perform according to how the sound is triggered by the movement of the wearer. These determine the output based on the rotation of the dress using gyroscopes, accelerometers that measure the speed of the dress as it is turning, and flex sensors that trigger sounds when the arms are in certain positions.

The sound design component relies on organic sound samples of the classical Turkish ṭanbūr recorded by a musician and manipulated in computer music design software. This gives the garment a unique edge by functioning as a computer digitized representation of an instrument that is activated by motions of the body. The sounds are triggered using algorithms created in Max Cycling ’74 software. These patches will detect a threshold of movement by the wearer before a sound is triggered.

This according to “Dervish sound dress: Odjevni predmet sa senzorima koji emitiraju zvuk i haptičkim odzivom/The dervish sound dress: A garment using sensors that emit sound and haptic feedback” by Hedy Hurban, an essay included in Muzika–nacija–identitet/Music–nation–identity (Sarajevo: Muzikološko Društvo Federacije Bosne i Hercegovine, 2020).

Video documentation of the dervish sound dress is here.

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Filed under Curiosities, Dance, Science

Journal of the Association for Technology in Music Instruction

Launched by the University of Tennessee Libraries in 2020, the Journal of the Association for Technology in Music Instruction is the official journal of the Association for Technology in Music Instruction.

The journal primarily publishes full-length and brief reports of original research, but also publishes methodological, review, and theoretical articles at all levels and across genres such as education, theory/composition, musicology, performance and music production, and music technology and music industry.

Peer-reviewed, it welcomes contributions from educators, researchers, and practitioners who are working with technologies in primary, secondary, and tertiary music education settings as well as unique learning populations. The research it publishes follows academically sanctioned methodology: experimental, case study, ethnographic, or historical.

Below, an instructional video by Robert Willey, who contributed to the inaugural issue with an article on teaching electronic music technology.

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Filed under New periodicals, Pedagogy, Science

Didjeridu playing and sleep apnea

 

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome are two highly prevalent sleep disorders caused by collapse of the upper airways. The most effective intervention for these disorders is continuous positive airway pressure therapy, which reduces daytime sleepiness and the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the most severely affected patients. For moderately affected patients who complain about snoring and daytime sleepiness, however, continuous positive airway pressure therapy may not be suitable, and other effective interventions are needed.

A didjeridu instructor noticed that he and some of his students experienced reduced daytime sleepiness and snoring after practicing with this instrument for several months. A randomized controlled experiment confirmed that regular didjeridu playing is an effective treatment alternative well accepted by patients with moderate obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.

This according to “Didgeridoo playing as alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome: Randomised controlled trial” by Milo A. Puhan, et al. (BMJ CCCXXXII [December 2006]; RILM Abstracts 2006-51373). The article won the Ig Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

Above and below, traditional uses of the didjeridu.

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Filed under Curiosities, Instruments, Science

The theremin turns 100!

 

 

After the electronic oscillator was invented in 1915, revolutionizing the radio industry, the Russian inventor Léon Thérémin used this technology to develop the first fully functional electronic musical instrument; originally called the etherphone, it became widely known as the theremin.

Without touching the instrument, the player controlled pitch through relative proximity of the right hand to a vertical antenna, and volume through similar movements of the left hand in relation to a horizontal antenna. The instrument employed a heterodyne, or beat frequency system, and boasted a range of three to four octaves.

On the invitation of Lenin, Thérémin travelled throughout Russia, demonstrating his instrument, and toured Europe in 1927, causing excitement in Germany, France, and England. Later that year, Thérémin travelled to the U.S., where he remained until 1938.

In 1929 he sold his patent to the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), which made and sold 500 instruments. Leopold Stokowski collaborated on a fingerboard version, which he used with the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1929 to 1931. Thérémin performed with the New York Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestra, and presented several coast-to-coast broadcasts. He returned to the USSR in 1938.

This according to The theremin in the emergence of electronic music by Albert Glinsky, a dissertation accepted by New York University in 1992 (RILM Abstracts 1992-424).

The theremin is 100 years old this month! Above and below, the inventor in action.

BONUS: A brief presentation of further historical and technical information.

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Sopranos and intelligibility

 

Many English-speaking people attending concerts sung in English readily state that they cannot understand the words being sung.

In a study, 21 subjects (15 women, 6 men), all Western classically trained performers as well as teachers of classical singing, sang 11 words—“beat, bait, Bob, boat, boot,” representing the most frequently occurring vowels in practice, and “bit, bet, bat, bought, but, book,” representing the other six vowels that occur less frequently—arranged in six random orders, singing on two pitches a musical fifth apart.

The sung words were cropped to isolate the vowels, and listening tapes were created. Two listening groups, four singing teachers and five speech-language pathologists, were asked to identify the vowels intended by the singers. In general, vowel intelligibility was lower with the higher pitch, and vowels sung by the women were less intelligible than those sung by the men.

This according to “Vowel intelligibility in classical singing” by Jean Westerman Gregg and Ronald C. Scherer (Journal of voice XX/2 [June 2006] 198–210; RILM Abstracts 2006-8289).

Many thanks to Improbable research for bringing this article to our attention! Above, an illustration from the study; below, Jason Eckardt’s Dithyramb).

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International journal of music science, technology, and art

 

In 2019 Accademia Musicale “Studio Musica” launched International journal of music science, technology, and art, an international and double-blind peer-reviewed journal.

IJMSTA provides a platform for the publication of the most advanced research in music in the areas of acoustics, artificial intelligence, mathematical analysis, learning and teaching, history, and ethnomusicology. The journal welcomes original empirical investigations; the papers may represent a variety of theoretical perspectives and different methodological approaches.

Below, Sheriff Ghale, one of the Ghanaian popular musicians discussed in the inaugural issue.

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Filed under New periodicals, Science

Personality and alcohol consumption by genre

 

A 2017 study compared the personality traits of Croatian classical and heavy metal musicians with norms for the Croatian population, and data on alcohol consumption with a representative sample of the general Croatian population.

Participants in the study were men (N = 249) playing either classical (N = 113) or heavy metal music (N = 136). Personality was measured with the IPIP-50 personality questionnaire, and participants answered several questions about alcohol consumption.

The study found no significant differences in personality traits between classical and heavy metal musicians, but both classical and heavy metal musicians differed significantly in personality from the norms, having higher scores on extraversion, agreeableness, and especially intellect.

Belonging to a heavy metal group was associated with consuming alcohol more often, and the frequency of alcohol consumption was statistically higher for heavy metal musicians than in the general population.

This according to “Personality traits and alcohol consumption of classical and heavy metal musicians” by Ana Butkovič and Dunja Rančić Dopuđ (Psychology of music XLV/2 [March 2017] pp. 246–56).

Above and below, members of Hladno Pivo (Cold Beer) discuss the study’s findings.

Related article: Eläkeläiset inebriated

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Filed under Curiosities, Popular music, Science

Music and handwashing

 

In an attempt to determine the effects of a training song in maintaining a self-help skill that was taught with the aid of a song, 21 preschool children were first taught to wash their hands as a ten-step procedure; then they received ten training sessions in which they washed their hands with the aid of the Handwashing song.

After training they were post-tested, then divided into four equalized groups for maintenance. The first group served as a control; the second group heard the music only from the training song as they washed their hands; the third group heard only the words, spoken in a normal voice; and the fourth group heard the complete song while washing their hands.

None of the maintenance procedures showed effects that were statistically significant when compared to any of the other procedures; however, subjects who received the words-only and complete-song conditions showed better maintenance of their post-test scores than subjects assigned to the first two groups.

This according to “Effects of music as a cue in maintaining handwashing in preschool children” by Shirley A. Kramer (Journal of music therapy XV/3 [fall 1978] pp. 136–44).

Many thanks to Improbable Research for reminding us of this timely study! Below, Danial Kheirikhah offers a dramtic demonstration.

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

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Bobby McFerrin and science

 

In an interview, Bobby McFerrin responded to being termed a “science guy”:

“I’m not really much of a science guy, but I’ve been privileged to work with Daniel Levitan and Elaina Mannes, scientists who are interested in how music affects people. Well, every time I give a concert I spend my whole time observing how music affects the people! So it’s very interesting to me.”

“The piece I did at the World Science Festival is called the Pentatonic romp. I’ve performed it all over the world, and people everywhere can sing that scale by ear. Doesn’t matter what language they speak or what kind of music they listen to. It’s like it’s built in. I’ve done it for decades now and I still think it’s amazing!”

Quoted in “Science, faith and improv: An interview with Bobby McFerrin” (Bandwagon 17 February 2015).

Today is McFerrin’s 70th birthday! Above, performing at !Sing: Day of Song in 2010 (photo by Michael Koschinski); below, the 2009 World Science Festival performance.

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Filed under Curiosities, Performers, Science

Novelty and influence in classical piano music

 

While innovation is crucial for novel and influential achievements, quantifying these qualities in creative works remains a challenge. An information-theoretic framework for computing the novelty and influence of creative works based on their generation probabilities reflects the degree of uniqueness of their elements in comparison with other works.

Applying this formalism to a high-quality, large-scale data set of classical piano compositions–works of significant scientific and intellectual value–spanning several centuries of musical history, represented as symbolic progressions of chords, a study found that the enterprise’s developmental history can be characterized as a dynamic process composed of the emergence of dominant, paradigmatic creative styles that define distinct historical periods. These findings can offer a new understanding of the evolution of creative enterprises based on principled measures of novelty and influence.

This according to “Novelty and influence of creative works, and quantifying patterns of advances based on probabilistic references networks” by Doheum Park, Juhan Nam, and Juyong Park (EPJ data science IX/2 [2020]).

Many thanks to Marc Abrahams of Improbable Research for bringing this to our attention!

Above, two illustrations from the article (click to enlarge); below, Chopin’s prelude in A Major, op. 28, no.7, which provides the basis for the second illustration.

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