Monthly Archives: September 2012

FSU Marching Band plays Game of Thrones

What’s not to love about Game of Thrones? Well, other than having to wait another 189 days to watch it. College football is up there and Florida State’s marching band combined the two by pulling out the Game of Thrones theme (see video) as part of a celebration of German defensive end Bjoern Werner’s Werner is Coming Game of Thrones meme.

The World’s Largest Organ

Come see the organ! It’s even bigger than the largest whale!

Locally known as morske orgulje, the “sea organ,” designed by the architect Nikola Bašić in 2005, was built in order to redesign the Zadar’s coastline which was devastated in WWII. The 230 foot-long instrument is comprised 35 musically tuned tubes under the marble sidewalk of the Zadar quay. The winds of the Adriatic sea powers this giant instrument, and depending the size and speed of the waves, different harmonic clusters are produced.

And if you didn’t need any other excuse to travel to Zadar Croatia…

NC-17 Opera

Violence and kinky sex is normally associated with Nevada whore houses, not opera…until about 10 years ago. The Regieoper or “director’s opera” productions of the Catalán theater director, Calixto Bieto, have been taking Europe by storm for the last 10 years. His productions of classics in the repertory have including a man peeing on stage and making a woman drink it during Mozart’s Enführung aus dem Seraill, Max pulling bullets out of Agathe’s vagina in Weber’s Der Frieschutz, and Madama Butterfly slicing open her kid’s throat instead of using the dagger to kill herself in Puccini’s masterwork. His operas have been met with mixed reviews in Europe, and so far, have not caught on in the states. Who would have thought going to the opera would require an N-17 warning?

Wine, Women, and Song (Women optional)

Good news! You no longer have to choose insipid background music for your next cocktail party. Musical wine glasses are now available! Each glass contains musical pitches that correspond to the level of wine in the glass. With just one glass an entire chromatic scale can be played as you sip! The more sensitive socialite might enjoy running her wine dipped finger around the rim for a flute like tone, while the CEO may prefer to get out his daily aggressions by striking the glass with a cocktail fork. As the highest note is A=442, it is advised not to serve your best Bordeaux (biased opinion here) unless you want your living room to sound like an orchestra tuning.

On the death of expertise

I find it, in equal parts, depressing and shocking how arrogant technology has made us. We’re so quick to praise innovation and creativity that it’s easy to overlook that something is not simply “new” because we haven’t yet encountered it. An example of this is Diego Stocco’s Experibass (embedded below). Although he’s a well-known sound designer, his pieces are nothing more noodling behind a weak array of digital effects. As another example of this catastrophe of sound, listen to the inane example here of Music from Nature–a flora version of a Drum Machine tutorial’s sample.

Oh, also this was done much better decades ago by John Cage.

Making music with swings

21 Balançoires takes is an art installation residing in a newly open space in front of Université du Québec à Montréal’s Science Faculty. Together with Luc-Alain Giraldeau, an animal behaviour professor from the faculty, artists Mouna Andaros, Melissa Mongiat and Kelsey Snook wanted to explore the idea that together we achieve better things than separately.

What they came up with is a gigantic musical “instrument” made of 21 musical swings. Each of the swings triggers different notes, and all the swings together compose a piece, but some sounds only emerge from a cooperative effort of the interaction between the swings.

Here it is in action:

The great thing about this is that it can involve young and old alike (at the same time), to collaborate together to form music. You don’t need to know how to play anything, you just need to know how to have fun.

Here are a number of photos of the installation (click each to see larger versions).

Marshall home stereo speakers

Marshall is launching their new active speaker system – it’s an active speaker system that looks just like a Marshall guitar amp. Named The Hanwell, it picked up its name from the London location of Jim Marshall’s first shop.

They haven’t released the pricing yet, but I’m willing to bet it goes to eleven.

Of course the funny thing is that Marshall amps are not known for their clear, pure sound – quite the opposite, they are revered for their distortion. My sense is that these things are going to flop, simply because I think that people won’t be able to get past this. But of course, I’m usually wrong about these things.

Songs of the IBM

At some point in 1937, IBM decided that publishing a book of songs that all of their workers could stand up and sing, rejoicing in the virtues of their humble master, IBM, was a great idea.

This strange piece of IBM history was printed as a thin paperback volume of 54 pages, entitled “Songs of the IBM, 1937 Edition”. The first page gives you a good idea of what is in store:

For thirty-seven years, the gatherings and conventions of our IBM workers have expressed in happy songs the fine spirit of loyal cooperation of good fellowship which has promoted the signal success of our great IBM Corporation in its truly International Service for the betterment of business and benefit to mankind.

In appreciation of the able and inspiring leadership of our beloved President, Mr. Thos. J. Watson, and our unmatchable staff of IBM Executives, and in recognition of the noble aims of purposes of our International Service and Products, this 1937 edition of IBM songs solicits your vocal approval by hearty cooperation in our song-fests at our conventions and fellowship gatherings.

I found this to be very, very strange. Big groups of IBM employees singing the praises of their leaders and pledging loyalty to their dear IBM is something right out of North Korea.

Here are a few scans from the book, including the “To our IBM Girls” song:

You can download the entire booklet here (2MB).

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