Your New Robot Overlord Turns Out To Be A Pretty Good Marimba Player

Your New Robot Overlord Turns Out To Be A Pretty Good Marimba Player



Looking for a musically sensitive, responsive bandmate? Maybe you should try out Shimon.

Shimon is a jazz-playing robot created by Gil Weinberg and his team at the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology. Shimon was debuted seven years ago, but the robot gave a performance alongside a human collaborator yestererday at Moogfest in Durham, N.C., a festival concentrating on the intersection of music and technology. The video was captured by Quartz reporter Mike Murphy, who has written about Shimon. Continue reading

New scientific study confirms the obvious: Freddie Mercury had an unparalleled singing voice

New scientific study confirms the obvious: Freddie Mercury had an unparalleled singing voice

Regardless of what they might think personally about Queen, most rock critics and music fans alike recognize the immense vocal talent that was the great Freddie Mercury. Still, in case there was ever any doubt, new analysis of both Mercury’s singing and speaking voices has shed fresh light on just how special his pipes really were.A group of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers conducted the research, the results of which were published on Friday in Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology (via AlphaGalileo). While they couldn’t confirm the long-held belief that Mercury’s range spanned four full octaves, they did discover some interesting tidbits about the expanse of his voice. For one, despite being known largely as a tenor, he was more likely a baritone. They based this assumption off six interviews they analyzed to find a median speaking fundamental frequency of 117.3 Hz. That, coupled with anecdotal evidence that Mercury once turned down an opera duet because he was afraid fans wouldn’t recognize his baritone voice, led the conclusion that the singer was talented enough to jump out of his base range. Continue reading

Technology and the violin

Technology and the violin

Modern violins, violas, cellos and bass instruments owe much of their design heritage to their early forebear, the viol.  The viol was, in itself, a tremendous technological leap forward in bowed stringed instrument design over it’s 13th century contemporaries like rebecs, Byzantine lira (or lūrā) and Arabic rebabs which were the popular bowed instruments of the day.  By utilizing a carved top, back, and planed side ribs, as well as the introduction of the soundpost, the construction of the viol in the 15th century allowed for a sweeter, brighter sound than was previously possible with earlier instruments, and by that time Europe had grown tired of the harsh tone produced by the rebec. Chaucer’s Friar in The Canterbury Tales comments that a woman’s voice was “shrill lyke a rebekke,” Continue reading

Clara Rockmore and the Theremin

Clara Rockmore: Story of the theremin virtuoso who inspired Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones

Clara Rockmore was a pioneer of electronic music and, had she still been alive, would have turned 105 today.

Rockmore was a master of the theremin – the world’s first electronic music instrument and first instrument that could be played without being touched. The theremin inspired the likes of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys. And was the instrument that led to the creation of the first synthesizer.

On what would have been her 105th birthday, Rockmore has been commemorated with a Google Doodle. The interactive game teaches you to play the theremin by hovering your mouse over the notes to play a melody. Continue reading

Stop Trying to Sound Like Broadway Cast Recordings

Have you ever listened to a song on a Broadway cast recording and thought, “This singing sounds almost TOO perfect”? That’s because, in many cases, it is. Just as nearly all pop singles today are heavily edited, mixed, compressed, equalized, etc. before release, so too are the songs on the vast majority of Broadway recordings. That may seem like a common sense statement, but the implications are wide-reaching for us as performers and teachers. Dr. Matthew Edwards, a Professor of Voice and Musical Theatre at Shenandoah Conservatory, explains further: Continue reading

Crowdsourcing an entire song in 10 days through your phone!

Crowdsourcing an entire song in 10 days through your phone!

As we become more interconnected, as out mobile technology becomes more sophisticated, its becoming easier and easier to outsource tasks to qualified experts in a variety of fields at the touch of a button.  This is a story about how Alec Wiggs took his guitar riff, using Garage Band on his iPhone as a mobile recording and mixing interface, and fleshed out an entire song for minimal financial investment.

In the span of 10 days with $230, “Hydrangea” was made with five strangers spread out across the United States—all of whom love their craft enough to do it for an affordable price. Continue reading