September 26, 2013
A Cappella Science - Bohemian Gravity!
Here's the latest viral a cappella clip (1.4 million views in just over a week). A very clever parody by Tim Blais about the intricacies of String Theory. Smart bunch these a cappella singers..
September 25, 2013
A cappella's biggest hit anniversary
It was 25 years ago today that this a cappella song reached number one on the Billboard charts. It must be the best selling a cappella track ever although I have heard that Bobby will not sing it any more. I remember this video being made as I met Bill Irwin during the shoot and remain a big fan of his. Bobby is feeling much better by the way and performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival this past weekend.
September 21, 2013
Roomful of Teeth: a gallery of abstract, arresting sound
Seattle Times (WA):
Roomful of Teeth: A highly unusual name for a highly unusual group of eight classically trained young singers, who in 2009 formed this group to commission and perform works which explore the outer ranges of possible vocal technique. They came to Town Hall Thursday night under the auspices of Town Music, the series curated by cellist Joshua Roman, himself always interested in expanding the possibilities available to a classical musician.
The singers stood in a shallow arc, two sopranos, two altos, a tenor, two baritones and a bass. Their concert was a short one, perhaps necessary given the extreme energy, concentration and technical wizardry required, using just their own human instruments. They performed — it’s not quite right to say sang, as often they were making other sounds — 10 pieces and an encore, using voices as pure as English choirboys, or as earthy as any singer belting out lyrics today, in styles from Sardinia’s cantu a tenore to Inuit throat singing, Bulgarian-style singing, even yodeling. They used microphones, not for loudness, I would think, but to protect their voices yet still project while singing quietly. Read more.
September 17, 2013
Singing lesson from 1650
"A singer should not sing through his nose. He must not stammer, lest he be incomprehensible. He must not push with his tongue or lisp, else one will hardly understand half of what he says. He also should not close his teeth together, nor open his mouth too wide, nor stretch his tongue out over his lips, nor thrust his lips upward, nor distort his mouth, nor disfigure his cheeks and nose like the long-tailed monkey, nor crumple his eyebrows together, nor wrinkle his forehead, nor roll his head or the eyes therein round and round, nor wink with the same, nor tremble with his lips, etc." - Christoph Bernhard, Von der Singkunst oder Manier (1650)
September 9, 2013
Bobby McFerrin cancels gigs
This notice has been posted on Bobby's web site:-
"Spirityouall tour to China/Japan postponed! We’re sad to announce that Bobby won’t be performing in Shanghai, Tokyo, and Osaka this coming week. On the advice of his physician, he’s undergoing precautionary tests and observation for a previously diagnosed heart condition. He’s already feeling much better, and enjoying the comforts of home. He sends love and regrets to all who’ve bought tickets and made plans, and hopes to reschedule as soon as possible!
Let's hope it's nothing at all serious.
September 6, 2013
Pitch/Fork: The Relationship Between Sound And Taste
Sometimes a toffee sounds really good–not just the suggestion of it, but the actual toffee itself. That’s according to a study that found altering the pitch and type of instruments used in an accompanying soundtrack can modify the way food tastes.
The experiment was conducted using background music that was developed based on previous research that explored associations between variations in pitch and the perception of sour, sweet, bitter, and salty tastes. Each volunteer was given four pieces of toffee. Two pieces were eaten accompanied by a soundtrack of a lower pitched brass instruments. The remaining toffee was consumed listening to a high pitched piano piece. The result was a bittersweet symphony. Although all of the toffee was the same, volunteers rated toffee consumed during the piano music as sweet while pieces eaten with the lower pitched music were perceived as bitter.
These findings might be particularly illuminating for those who may have associated the experience of something dissolving on the tongue and musical pairings with a trip other than one to the science lab. It might also be useful for those who thought senses intertwining were only limited to those with synaesthesia, a neurological condition in which the senses cross over. For those with synaesthesia, a sense such as hearing or vision is experienced in a part of the body other than the part stimulated. It’s believed abstractionist painter Vassily Kandinsky had synaesthesia, hearing colors and seeing sounds. Although it has been theorized that everyone might have the potential to develop synaesthesia, only 1-4% of the population actually experience the condition. Since everyone might have a bit of it, you don’t have to be Kandinsky to experience an element of synaesthesia. Nor do you have to be Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds to taste music.
September 4, 2013
Tetris a cappella with Smooth McGroove
Smooth McGroove has carved out a very specific niche for himself on YouTube by performing a cappella covers of classic video game theme songs. His latest installment — an expressive version of the Tetris theme — just might be his best yet. McGroove — whose real name is Max Gleason — recorded all the parts himself and stitched them together for a result that will make you want to bust out your old Game Boy and lose yourself in the hypnotic world of Tetris.
Bonus fun fact: the Tetris theme song is a version of the 19th century Russian folk tune Korobeiniki.