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Musical oddities, curious phenomena, medical conditions, scientific discoveries, etc., all within the realm of music.

You are invited to comment on the stories or to suggest other relevant stories in our Music Forum.

 Space Oddity  
Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield singing in zero gravity
North America's newest pop star is International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield. In this unique "out of this world" music video clip, his zero gravity rendition of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" has racked up more than 11 million YouTube hits since being posted Sunday 12th May 2013.

Apart from this astounding setting and Chris' gorgeous Canadian tenor voice, the accompaniment arranged and performed by Canadian singer/songwriter Emm Gryner is stunning.

Read more...here


A strange musical instrument!  
Hans Reichel's invention, the Daxophone
The Daxophone is a somewhat comical sounding instrument of the friction idiophone category invented by Hans Reichel. It consists of a thin wooden blade fixed in a wooden block, which is played by bowing or by being struck or plucked. The vibrations are amplified by contact mics. A wide range of voice-like timbres can be produced, either as fixed pitches on the fretted side of the block, or in a more fluid glissando style on the smooth side.

Listen to the Daxophone-->>
See it demonstrated on youtube


Make music out of a URL!  
Turn Any Web Site Into Music
Here is a curiously bizarre idea. Go to http://www.codeorgan.com/
and type-in a Web site URL and it scans the words, removes all the non musical letters, and makes "music" out of whatever's left.


The power of Mozart's music!  
Mozart's Music Makes Premature Babies Fatten Up?
The results of a recent study conducted by Israeli doctors released last month, showed that healthy premature babies subjected to 10 to 30 minutes of music from a "Baby Mozart" CD caused the babies metabolism to slow down on average of up to 13%. With a slower metabolism, the premature babies would gain much needed weight faster. Scientists are still unsure if the study proves to be another "Mozart Effect." What do you think?


Playing the piano upside down!  
Upside Down And Backwards Pianist
A tricky way to demonstrate musical talent. She is obviously a fairly accomplished pianist, but what an unusual way to show this. Lying beneath the keyboard her hands are crossed as she performs upside down and backwards - a difficult feat!


One cello, four players!.  
Four musicians playing Maurice Ravel's Boléro on one cello!
The world class Brittish string quartet, Stringfever is made up of three brothers and a cousin; Giles, Ralph, Graham & Neal Broadbent. Playing skeletal electric strings they perform the industry's favourite classics and some contemporary works in a thoroughly entertaining and unique way.
Billed as the worlds first genetically modified string quartet they combine exceptional musical skill with humour and a real talent for involving and engaging their audience.
In this video clip you'll see all four musicians playing Maurice Ravel's Boléro on the same cello!!..
One cello, four players!.......See video


A Speaking Piano  
A Speaking Piano
A "speaking piano" reciting the Proclamation of the European Environmental Criminal Court at World Venice Forum 2009.
The Austrian composer Peter Ablinger transferred the frequency spectrum of a child's voice to his computer controlled mechanical piano. He broke down the recording into individual pixels at fairly high resolution and, rendering the result via the mechanical piano, one can actually hear a human voice in the piano sound.......more


The Silent Disco!  
A new musical craze - The Silent Disco
A surprising new musical craze is taking Britain's dance floors by storm - the sound of silence.
Silent discos, in which people dance to music played through personal headphones rather than speakers, was once the preserve of music festivals and special club nights.
But now it is becoming increasingly popular at weddings and private parties, enabling teenagers to dance to their hearts' content without keeping their parents or the neighbours awake all night.
And the fact that dancers can choose between two or more different channels, means classical music fans waltzing to Schubert can in theory share the same floor as ravers partying to hard-core techno music.
Its origins are said to date back to an obscure 1969 Finnish sci-fi film called Ruusujen aika, but its popularity has soared in Britain since it appeared at the 2005 Glastonbury music festival.... More.


The first human synthesizer  
Calvin Harris hooks up first human synth
Bikini-clad women smeared with body paint have become a human synthesiser for Calvin Harris's latest single! Watch the video of Calvin Harris testing out the "Humanthesiser," a synthesiser that uses people to play sounds.....more


Piano-Playing Cat Makes Orchestra Debut
A video of a kitten on the keys of a piano inspired this amazing orchestral composition. Conducted by its Lithuanian composer Mindaugas Piecaitis, Nora the cat is accompanied by the Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra. This sensitively written piece turns a random cat piano solo into something incredible!....more


Music that makes you dumb  
Music that makes you dumb
CalTech grad student named Virgil Griffith has conducted an interesting (albeit somewhat unscientific) study relating music preferences with SAT scores. The SAT Reasoning Test (formerly Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. While SAT scores are criticized for not accurately determining intelligence, the results of Virgil's study show that the "smartest" students' favourite musician is Beethoven, with an average SAT score of 1371, and at the other end of the spectrum is Lil’ Wayne, with an average score of 889....more


Auto-Tune dates back to 1930s!  
The ubiquitous Auto-Tune software dates back to 1930s!
Auto-tune software was developed by Andy Hildebrand in the 1990s to correct pitch imperfections automatically in real time, but was first made famous by Cher on "Believe" in 1998 not as its inventor intended, but adjusted to produce a robot-like voice effect. It is now widely used in this way by T-Pain, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Akon, Birdman, Ron Browz, and others. This vocoder or voice synthesizing technology in fact dates back to the 1930s... more


Music of the Neanderthals  

Music of the Ages by Glenn R. Morton
The earliest music was made by Neanderthals around 80-100,000 years ago. This is twice as old as the Eastern European Neanderthal Flute reported recently. Evidence for pre-60,000 year old musical instruments comes from three continents, many examples of two types of instruments, and thus is not an isolated occurrence. Ancient musical instruments were made by anatomically modern men 30,000 years ago...(more)


 World's most expensive speaker cable from www.noiseaddicts.com

What could you buy with $21,000? - a car?, a couple of over-seas trips?, a down payment on a house? Do you think even the most dedicated audiophile would spend it on 3 meters of speaker cable?...
World's most expensive speaker cable

 The Ondes Martenot Electronic music from 1920s

The ondes Martenot (French for "Martenot waves" also known as the ondium Martenot, Martenot and ondes musicales) is an early electronic musical instrument, invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot and originally very similar in sound to the Theremin. The sonic capabilities of the instrument were subsequently expanded by the addition of timbral controls and switchable loudspeakers. The instrument's eerie wavering notes are oscillating frequencies produced by thermionic valves

Martenot was originally a cellist and this instrument mimics the cello very well....

Video on YouTube:

Jean Laurendeau and the Ondes Martenot
- A light overview of the rarely heard Ondes Martenot, with one of the world's foremost masters of the instrument, Jean Laurendeau.

 Strange Phenomena Oliver Sacks

A surgeon is struck by lightning and becomes obsessed with Chopin. An eminent psychoanalyst is kept awake by hallucinations of a singing rabbi. An amnesiac musicologist incapable of remembering anything that happened more than a few
seconds ago finds refuge from his disoriented existence by performing Bach fugues.

Music, writes neurologist Oliver Sacks in his new book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, opens a window into almost every aspect of life and brain function....


More reading...
Oliver Sacks on the musical brain

Videos on YouTube:

Oliver Sacks - Musicophilia - Amusia
- amusia, the inability or inhibited ability of the brain to process music.
Oliver Sacks - Musicophilia - The Power of Rhythm
- music, the brain, and the power of rhythm to move us, literally and figuratively.
Oliver Sacks - Musicophila - Brainworms
- "brainworms", why certain songs seem to lodge themselves in our brains.

 Synesthesia Hearing Colours

Imagine that whenever you hear music you also see colours or shapes or experience smells. This is the reality for some synesthetes.

Synesthesia is a condition in which the real information of one sense is accompanied by a perception in another sense. A person may see colours when hearing a sound or may experience a smell when seeing a certain colour. There is much to be learned about this phenomenon...


Other Links:

About Synesthesia

Synesthesia and Artistic Experimentation

Sound of Paintings - Music generated from paintings

Videos on YouTube:

Seeing Life in colours: Crosswired Senses

Cytowic on Synesthesia at the Hirshhorn Part 1
Cytowic on Synesthesia at the Hirshhorn Part 2
Cytowic on Synesthesia at the Hirshhorn Part 3
Cytowic on Synesthesia at the Hirshhorn Part 4


 Music's Healing Power Music therapy: the Tomatis Method

Did you know that ailments such as lack of balance, poor concentration, stuttering and even depression could actually be attributed to problems with your ears? A simple therapy, known as the Tomatis Method, has proven to be an effective way to treat many ailments associated with the inner ear.

A device called the electronic ear — a black box that plays cassettes, rather like an amplifier and linked to headphones — devised by Dr Tomatis, relays music in such a way that it exercises the muscles in the ears. It retrains the ear by playing filtered music through the headphones, gradually reintroducing sound through its natural journey of development. Mozart's music is used because it falls mostly in the high-frequency sound range and has a greater number of vibrations than other types of music. It also uses both medium- and low-range pitches at random, to give the ear a solid workout...


 Weather Harp sound sculpture Melbourne's Weather Harp

An intriguing harp mounted on an exterior wall in Sugden Place, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia from 2003-2006. It is played by the weather.
Environmentally Sensitive Installation, Kinetic Installation and Outdoor Installation
Video by Briele Hansen. Sound by Michael Havir and David Murphy....


Video on YouTube:

Melbourne's Weather Harp

 The Sounds of Silence John Cage's 4′33″

Avant-Garde composer John Cage's most famous musical composition called 4'33" consists of the pianist going to the piano, and not playing for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. (He uses a stopwatch to time this.) In other words, the entire piece consists of silences - silences of different lengths.

What you hear when you listen to 4'33" is more a matter of chance than with any other piece of music - nothing of what you hear is anything the composer wrote...


John Cage's 4′33″

Videos on YouTube:

Piano version of 4′33″

Full Orchestral version of 4′33″


 Lullabies and Language Development ABC Radio story

A research study has found that lullabies not only relax babies but help them learn the language. A mother singing lullabies whilst pregnant and continuing after the birth of her baby can help decrease the chance of post natal depression, encourage bonding between mother and baby, and help the child's language development...


 Musical Savant 1 Rex Lewis-Clack

His piano teacher is teaching him a piece, a Schubert Impromptu, and he’s hearing it now for the first time. Right after hearing it, he’s able to play the piece, but he isn’t reading music. He can’t even see the keys.
Rex is a musical savant, one of a handful of people in the world who share a mysterious combination of blindness, mental disability, and exceptional musical talent...."
Rex Lewis-Clack is a musical savant whose incredible piano talent coexists with blindness and severe mental impairment. ...


 Musical Savant 2 Derek Paravicini

Blind and brain-damaged, Derek Paravicini is a musical marvel, able to play back any tune after one listen.
Derek was called a "human iPod" on a recent visit to the US, but Dr Ockelford resists that limiting description. "When he works with an orchestra, he tunes in to the musicians around him. If they are playing simply and quietly, he'll pick up on that. He shows real sensitivity."...



Videos on YouTube:

Musical Savants - autism, blindness

 Brainwaves controlling piano from youtube.com

A guy controlling a piano with his brain.

 Musical instrument played by the Sea from oddmusic.com

Sea Organ - musical instrument played by the sea
The musical Sea Organ (morske orgulje) is located on the shores of Zadar, Croatia, and is the world’s first musical pipe organs that is played by the sea....


Listen to some sounds of the Sea Organ

 Drum rhythm sequencer using ball bearings from engadget.com

Peter Bennett's BeatBearing project is described as a "simple tangible user interface that uses ball bearings to program a sequencer". Ball bearings are used to trigger drum sounds. Visual feedback is displayed from underneath to indicate the current time and the state of each ball bearing. To understand it's elegant simplicity click on the video link below to see it in action.


Video on YouTube:

Drum rhythm sequencer using ball bearings

 The Great Stalactite Organ from environmentalgraffiti.com

Deep within the underground labyrinth of the Luray Caverns, Virginia, USA is what is likely to be the world’s largest and awe inspiring musical instrument: The Great Stalactite Organ may be the oldest naturally formed lithophone that has a customized organ console to utilize 37 of the cave formations.




Video on YouTube:

The Great Stalacpipe Organ

 The "Furby Gurdy" from www.noiseaddicts.com

The "Furby Gurdy"
- A weird digital variation on the ancient Middle Eastern hurdy gurdy.

Someone has created a mutant hurdy gurdy out of 4 Furby toys (as if a hurdy gurdy isn't mutant enough already). It's got all sorts of glitching controls, sequencing and the ability to control external synthesizers. Includes video.


Video on YouTube:

Circuit bent mechanical Furby sequencer linked to Korg SQ-10

 The "Kazookeylele" http://www.myspace.com/pocketfox100

A Scottish busker in Edinburgh has combined a toy piano with a ukelele and a kazoo to create the kazookeylele.


Video on YouTube:


 Cats listening to music from  http://www.tlu.ee/

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