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<img class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-97116" title="Fast musical notes on a music sheet" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/wiredscience/2012/02/music-660x331.jpg" alt="" width="660" height="331" /> One of Martin Gardner’s collections of his Mathematical Games columns from Scientific American is titled Fractal Music, Hypercards and More… The title article “White, Brown, and Fractal Music” is all about how the pitch structure of different types of music can be easily distinguished by the human ear. We know what white noise is: It’s the static we hear in between radio stations. No sound is correlated with the next one, so we get undifferentiated noise. The other extreme is what is known as Brownian, or brown, music.
By Alec Meer on March 26th, 2012 at 11:30 am. Once upon a time, Audiosurf was briefly RPS’ favourite game ever (although not in the case of John, who only likes beat-free music featuring men with nasal American accents*. Or Jim, who doesn’t like emotions). We put in our songs, we turned them into blissfully surreal racetracks/match-3 puzzles, we fought endlessly for higher scores to prove we knew our most beloved songs better than anyone else did.
<img src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/underwire/2012/04/positrons_660.jpg" alt="" title="positrons_660" width="660" height="440" class="size-full wp-image-102739" /> Composer Domenico Vicinanza turns positrons' trails into music. Image: Domenico Vicinanza
music The distinction between music and noise is mathematical form. The foundation of music is the musical note : a combination of pitch (the musical word for frequency) and duration.
A cricket song last heard 165 million years ago has been played again. To reconstruct the sound, paleontologists compared microscopic wing structures of fossil Archaboilus musicus , a Jurassic ancestor of modern crickets, to contemporary wings. Crickets sing — or, technically, “stridulate” — by rubbing together the ridged edges of their wings. From noises generated by modern features, the researchers could extrapolate what A. musicus sounded like. (To listen, play the file below.) Theirs was a powerful song, almost certainly used to attract mates.
The Gobustan National Park is an otherworldly place. More than four hundred mud volcanoes are found within the area – half of all mud volcanoes in the world. Additionally, there are bizarre rock formations, burning gas vents, prehistoric petroglyphs – and the large musical stone, called Gaval Dash (Qavaldaş). Two meters long, the stone resonates a tambourine-like sound when it is “played“ by hitting it with smaller stones. It is assumed to have been used since ancient times to play ritual melodies, used for the archaic Yallı chain-dance, which is portrayed at some of the petroglyphs at Gobustan – and which is still performed in Azerbaijan to this day. Other rocks in the Gobustan area have proven to have similar capabilities, which are thought to be the result of a combination of the unique climate and the effect of the natural gas within the region.
Mogees is a system that allows to transform any object into a musical instrument just by placing a contact microphone on it. Mogees lets artists to take advantage of everyday objects using them as musical instruments, breaking the boundaries between the digital and the real world. The following short video shows the Mogees connected to different surfaces such as a desk at the office, a tree in a park and even a balloon: The system works by connecting a contact microphone to a computer or a smartphone that runs the Mogees software application. The software analyses the incoming audio signal and extracts useful information about how the user touches the object, recognising for example whether the touch is a scratch or a tapping with fingers as well as touching the surface with different objects as shown in the video.
What really happens when you crank the volume knob too high. We all know what distortion sounds like. We’ve heard it in heavy metal tunes, cheap iPod docks and the crummy speakers at Taco Bell drive-thrus. And we’ve all read distortion specs on things like receivers and subwoofers. But other than a general understanding that distortion isn’t something we want in home audio gear, most people really don’t know what it is. It dawned me the other day that not only do I hear a lot more distortion than most people ('cause as an audio reviewer I gotta crank stuff up to find its limits), I also see distortion.
Digital audio has been around a very long time so there’s bound to be a plethora of audio formats out there. Here are some of the more common ones, what differentiates them, and what to use them for. Before we talk about everyday audio formats, it’s important you understand the basics, and that means understanding PCM. After that, we’ll tackle compressed formats.