Posted in communication and networking, music

Playing that sweet iMusic

From Seattle PI‘s bigblog:
Band puts down instruments, plays iPhones instead. The video from a New York subway is gaining ground on YouTube.

Posted in biology, communication and networking, design and architecture, music

Return of the science rappers

Specifically biology. From the NYT blog Tierneylab: The science rappers from Stanford are back. If you liked their take on regulatin’ genes, check out their new number on how the body converts food into energy. The song is performed by Derrick Davis, a student at Stanford, and Tom McFadden, an instructor in the human biology program there.

Also check out Tierneylab’s science song contest from last year.

Posted in communication and networking, music

Singing helps stroke victims speak

As seen on Discover Magazine, and reported by others:

Experts researching patients who have lost their ability to speak after a stroke are now suggesting that they could be able to communicate with music using Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT). Using MIT, the scientists showed that patients who were earlier communicating only in mumbles and grunts could now learn to sing out basic phrases like “I am thirsty.”

The study was conducted by Harvard Medical School neurologist Gottfried Schlaug on 12 patients whose speech was impaired by strokes, and showed that patients who were taught to essentially sing their words improved their verbal abilities and maintained the improvement for up to a month after the end of the therapy [Wall Street Journal]. Schlaug presented these findings at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

The researchers worked with stroke patients whose speech was incoherent, and who had damage in a region of the left side of the brain that is typically involved in speech. Schlaug’s research suggests that the brain can be essentially rewired. Stroke patients can learn to use a region on the right side of the brain, which is typically involved with music, for sing-songy speech instead. “Singing can give entry into a broken system by engaging the right hemisphere,” says Schlaug [ScienceNOW Daily News].

Read full coverage

Posted in biology, communication and networking, education, music

Music inspired by science

And we’re not just talking funny music videos this time.

Carl Zimmer of the blog The Loom is offering a song by Christine Lavin inspired by his recent firefly story. It is available for two days on her web site (and will resurface this fall on her next CD).

Says Zimmer, “I think this is the second or third time a musician has riffed on something I’ve written. Listen, for example, to this darker tune based on the wasp that’s also a brain surgeon.”

It’s a catchy tune, but definitely “educational” more than any other genre of music. Technically this is the second day it is being offered for free, so all you readers technically only have one day. So get on it!

Posted in communication and networking, music

The Beatles go digital on “Rock Band”

From The New York Times: “The Fab Two and the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison were on hand to announce more details of their coming video game, The Beatles: Rock Band.”

Yes, now you can pretend to be a Beatle with the aid of electronic technology, and not just a CD player and some rockin’ air guitar.

For those not in the know, Rock Band is a video game where people try to sing, drum, or guitar to a song. So far a mish-mash of bands have given permission to have their songs played on the video game. The Beatles are by far the biggest “win” in the history of video game franchising. 

From Stuff: “While Microsoft is keeping us guessing on their motion controller at today’s press conference in LA, the real glamour is surrounding Beatles Rock Band. The game just got its official unveiling, with none other than Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr dropping by to show off the title.

“Sadly they didn’t have a go, leaving that to some Xbox staffers instead. In fact, Macca and Ringo seemed a tad perplexed by the whole thing. Yoko was also on hand to say hi, but it was the surviving Beatles who got the biggest cheer.

“The game is due to land in September, with downloadable songs to follow. Abbey Road will be available in its entirety, with All You Need Is Love as an Xbox exclusive.”

Some people feel like the Beatles are selling out, but others see it as just another venue to enjoy Beatles music. Thoughts?

Posted in biology, communication and networking, education, medical imaging, Optics

The evolutionary impacts of song

To add more fuel to the “who owns music” fire, I’ve been collecting some tidbits on just how important music is to all animals.

Singing and music has been around since as long as we can determine. Some Neanderthal artifacts found can best be described as flutes or music makers.

Frogs, mice, and other animals, will sing to try and win a mate (whales do so with different regional dialects). Frogs can also tune their ears to ultrasonic frequencies to listen for different songs.

But singing and rhythm are not just things used to impress the ladies. Songs with a strong beat have been used by soldiers to march in step together and sailors to pull ropes in unison, or whatever else they needed to do at the same time. According to one survey, 90% of humans can sing, i.e. they are not completely tone deaf , and of the 10% who are, many of them recognize the right notes but just can’t quite create them. It is also easier for humans to remember things if they rhyme or have a rhythm or pattern to them.

Music soothes, agitates, or depresses people. Music is pretty powerful stuff.