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The best thing I’ve read today

I know it’s early, but I expect it to be the best thing for a few days yet. David Byrne writes about his love affair with sound, and I came away from it feeling like I’d both learned something new and that it fit well with other ideas I already had — it was a revelation to see how well music and evolution fit together.

Because music evolves. Byrne’s thesis is that it evolves to fit its environment (sound familiar?), and that you can see the history of a genre of a music in its sound. It’s all about the spaces it was played in, which shapes the kind of sound can be used effectively…and he makes the strong point that you can’t fully appreciate the music of a culture or a time when you transpose it to a different space. He goes through all kinds of music, from medieval chants (cathedrals!) to hip hop (cars!). The iPod isn’t just a passive delivery system for generic music, it influences how music will sound — ear buds represent a completely different sonic environment from a cluttered dance club.

Apparently, David Byrne is an Ecological Developmental Biology kind of guy. I like him even more already.

Because that’s what eco devo is all about. Development and environment are all intertwined, with one feeding back on the other — species are products of the spaces they evolved and developed in, and cannot be comprehended in isolation. It’s one of the weird things about modern developmental biology, that we preferentially study model systems, organisms that have been able to thrive when ripped out of their native environments and cultured in the simplified sterility of the lab. My zebrafish live now in small uncluttered tanks with heavily filtered water; their environment is like iPods, simple, streamlined, focused with relatively little resonance. The zebrafish evolved in mountain streams feeding into the Ganges, in lands seasonally flooded by great monsoons, a vast and complicated opera hall of an environment. A wild zebrafish and a lab zebrafish are two completely different animals.

Oh, look. I have a new metaphor for issues I’ve been thinking about for some time. Thanks, David Byrne!

I might just make his essay part of the readings for my developmental biology course next term.

Comments

  1. bortedwards says

    There are a growing number of papers demonstrating that birds (mostly corvids from memory) modify their calls (structure and tone) when in urban environments and even for different times of day (peak hour traffic vs mid day quiet). I’ll see if I can ferret out a reference…

  2. trinebm says

    Ooohhh – David Byrne, more cool than cool. It’s not a very new thought in musicology, but it is cool to see updated to ear-plugs and iPod-generations. The insight that the outside has a HUGE influence on the very sound of the music goes from very concrete examples like the trumpet music of the cathedral San Petronio (if I remember correctly) in Bologna, where the composer Torelli had to figure out how to make instrumental interludes with the enormous reverberation of the big church. His music makes so much more sense in that space. And at the other end is Wagner who built a hall for his own music so that sound and surroundings could melt together.
    And then there are all the other examples where the bare physics of music and the room/space where it is/was made influences the musical core and expression. And I think I’ll just stop here because this is getting waayyyy more specific than I planned.
    Just: Nice to see that cool David Byrne can make his way into an evo-devo class. Doesn’t make him less cool.

  3. trinebm says

    bortedwards: there was a recent study in Denmark that showed that Great Tits sing considerably louder and at a higher pitch in cities. And not only because of immidiate noise, but apparently also because the architecture/buildings reverberate the higher pitches better? I’ll post a link, but it’s in Danish.
    loud birds

  4. trinebm says

    Oh sorry … we posted at the same time and you found the same article in English. Ignore me second post (slinks back to work)

  5. machintelligence says

    In a sense, we work backward, either consciously or unconsciously, creating work that fits the venue available to us.

    I can’t think of a better example than Spem In Alium by Thomas Tallis. This work, composed in the late 1500′s as a showcase for choral writing, is a 40 part motet (40 voices singing 40 individual parts). It was to be performed in an octagonal hall with 4 balconies, so the grouping was 8 five voice choirs, one on each balcony, and one on the floor between each balcony, with the audience seated in the center. Surround sound in the 16th century.The occasion was purportedly a birthday celebration for Elizabeth I.
    It sounds beautifully ethereal in stereo, but to do it justice, you would need to record each voice as a separate track, and play each track through a separate speaker (it has been done).It is not often performed, but since it was mentioned in the novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” there has been a resurgence of interest. One of the YouTube videos went from 60,000 hits to 700,000 in a matter of months.
    The closest thing that I have heard live was a performance of Vaughn-Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis” in Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver. It is an “in the round” concert hall, and the orchestra was grouped into four choirs of instruments, placed in various locations around the hall, with a quartet in one of the high ring rows near the ceiling. The effect of the music moving around the hall was unique.

  6. says

    In the HIP* community this has been a driving force for ages.
    That’s why they play not only in appropriate spaces, but with appropriate instruments.

     
     

    *Historically Informed Performance.

  7. consciousness razor says

    That’s why they play not only in appropriate spaces, but with appropriate instruments.

    And appropriate practices. ;)

    PZ, how could this possibly be a new idea to you?

  8. rq says

    This is why, when my choir happens to have a performance in a church, we go up to the balcony (which is up at the back and out of sight) to do it, especially with organ, instead of down in the front.
    The odd thing is, that you can automatically hear, in a different venue/room/space of any kind, whether it works for that bit of music or not, even if you’re performing yourself (with rest of choir, of course). In some rooms, we come out feeling hoarse and tired from trying to get the right tones and colours and volume; other times, it flows easily, without effort, and even the higher bits sound great.
    Personally, I think empty rooms sound better than full ones. :) But that’s because I’m shy and we’re not a professional choir, just a very good one (if I do say so myself).

  9. consciousness razor says

    Personally, I think empty rooms sound better than full ones. :) But that’s because I’m shy and we’re not a professional choir, just a very good one (if I do say so myself).

    What we need (in some places) are audiences which are better at reflecting the sound evenly.

    You hear that people? Time to adapt. Put on your metallic wetsuits and pick up the slack.

  10. tbp1 says

    @9: Love both the Tallis motet and the Vaughan Williams Tallis Fantasia, and I also love performances that aren’t just the usual sitting in the hall listening to the musicians on stage (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    In 2009 my wife and I went to an event at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Composers had written pieces specifically for different spaces within the complex, some of them taking advantage of unique acoustics in certain places (long echo/decay and such). Each piece was repeated several times and the audience wandered around, listening to whatever interested them. It was really very 60s, in a good way.

    Also that year during the Proms there was a Xenakis piece with the orchestra in the arena in the middle. The “Prommers” were surrounded by the orchestra. We were in the stalls, but I thought it would have been great to be down in the arena surrounded by the glorious organized chaos of Xenakis.

    There have always been some pieces with the occasional off-stage or antiphonal bits (e.g. Verdi Requiem trumpets) but these went way beyond and really created unique experiences for the listeners.

  11. sc_b3852da0511075db84e787440ae4d8ec says

    One thing is missing. I long thought about how the developments of new instruments adds to evolution of music.
    Instruments also evolves, as the manufacturing technologies evolves, as science in the field of electronics, instrumentation, physics and sound engineering develops.
    I kind of feel instruments are like mutations, along with human cultures it mutates and add different dimensions to phonemes, music.

  12. wombats101 says

    “A wild zebrafish and a lab zebrafish are two completely different animals.”

    I’m so glad you said that. It is what us anti-vivisectionists have been saying for years, and is the core of what makes vivisection bad science. And does the same not apply to disease? When you then artificially induce a disease in a lab animal, what resemblence is there to that disease occuring “naturally” in a human being?

  13. Amphiox says

    It is what us anti-vivisectionists have been saying for years, and is the core of what makes vivisection bad science.

    Vivisection is neither good nor bad science, because vivisection isn’t science. It’s a technique. A technique which, incidentally, is virtually NEVER used anymore, since we have (gasp!) such a thing as veterinary anesthesia nowadays.

    The apparent inability of anti-vivisectionists to understand this point is what makes so many of them laughable caricatures.

    When you then artificially induce a disease in a lab animal, what resemblence is there to that disease occuring “naturally” in a human being?

    Enough to provide useful information.

    It is true that we would get even better information by testing directly on human beings.

    Would you like to volunteer to be a test subject?

    If not, who would you suggest be forced to be a test subject?

  14. rumson says

    Recently bought a double cassette collection of Talking Heads at a thrift store. Best dollar I ever spent!

    Anyone else notice mocking birds mimicking cell phones or car alarms? My girlfriend lives in Clifton NJ, which for some reason has a large population of the birds, and I have heard them make several sounds that sound strikingly like the “chirp chirp” when someone locks their car, or the sounds of an alarm going off. Also witnessed sounds I could swear I’ve heard cell phones make.
    Am I the only one?

  15. wombats101 says

    @Amphiox “A technique which, incidentally, is virtually NEVER used anymore”.

    If you call c 3.8 million procedures in the UK alone last year “virtually never”, then I suggest you learn to count. Get real. Source

    “The apparent inability of anti-vivisectionists to understand this point is what makes so many of them laughable caricatures”

    Ha ha ha.

    “Enough to provide useful information.”

    Not very. There is no shortage of diastrous consequences of faulty conclusions being drawn from animal tests. Thalidomide is the most famous, but it is by no means a unique example.

    Human tests are often required, and people do volunteer for them.

  16. wombats101 says

    I do tend to use the term “vivisection” to cover all animal experimentation, whether it involves surgery or not. But the point remains: PZ pointed out that a lab animal is a different creature from its “natural” counterpart. I put the argument that the same goes for disease: a disease artificially induced in the laboratory is different from that which occurs “in the wild”. Put the two together, and you end up with bad science. Or at least, irrelevant science. It becomes bad when the results are then appled to human beings.

  17. Francisco Bacopa says

    I wonder how many generations removed from the wild a typical captive bred zebrafish is. They first became big in the aquarium during the first wave of the modern aquarium hobby back in the 1920′s. I’ve never bred zebras, but I expect you can get at least four spawns a year out of them, maybe more. I have bred the somewhat closely related white Cloud Mountain Minnow (T. albonubes) and would get three spawns every winter and probably could have got more if I had a chiller.

    So, that’s 300=400 generations in captivity. Plenty of time for lots of evolved differences from the wild stock on the plateaus of India. I would expect that captive zebrafish are worse at avoiding predators, and far better at coping with pollution. Aquaria may look clean, but they have much higher levels of a lot of the pollutants that can harm fish than just about any wild habitat. And that includes the nasty looking drainage ditch behind my home. If you put that water to the test against almost any aquarium, the ditch would win.

  18. Amphiox says

    Human tests are often required, and people do volunteer for them.

    Correction. Human tests are ALWAYS required.

    There are in fact THREE levels of human testing that MUST be done for EVERY new drug.

    The first is to confirm safety in human subjects. The second to establish the dosing and administration protocol, and the third to determine effectiveness against a placebo and/or older standard of care drug.

    They are done AFTER animal testing has ALREADY been done. NONE of them are allowed, ethically, to be done WITHOUT first having animal testing.

    Of every thousand test drugs investigated, perhaps only one or two make it to the human testing stage. The rest are ruled out in the animal testing stage by virtue of proving too toxic or having no worthwhile effect.

    Without the animal test stage, you can take your “no shortage” of cases like thalidomide and MULTIPLY IT BY A FACTOR OF A THOUSAND.

    I repeat, would YOU volunteer for phase I safety testing of a compound that had NEVER been previously studied in an animal for baseline safety?

    If not, who would you recommend we FORCE to be so tested?

  19. Ze Madmax says

    wombats101 @ 21:

    PZ pointed out that a lab animal is a different creature from its “natural” counterpart.

    Indeed he did. He also explained why he believes this is the case: each animal experiences a radically different environment.

    I put the argument that the same goes for disease: a disease artificially induced in the laboratory is different from that which occurs “in the wild”

    But the argument does not necessarily follow. Just because two animals are “different” under PZ’s reasoning, it doesn’t mean that diseases that affect these animals are necessarily different. The onus falls on you to demonstrate that two animals raised in radically different environments (e.g., a lab tank vs. the Ganges river) are different enough that they represent radically different environments to disease introduced into each animal.

    And on top of that, you have to show that the differences are large enough to make research findings on lab animals irrelevant. Which you haven’t done.

  20. Amphiox says

    I do tend to use the term “vivisection” to cover all animal experimentation, whether it involves surgery or not.

    Then you are a dishonest liar.

    In fact, the term “vivisection” should only apply to procedure done without anesthesia. If anesthesia is used, it is surgery.

    But the point remains: PZ pointed out that a lab animal is a different creature from its “natural” counterpart.

    Different in some ways, but still the same in others. It’s still a fucking zebrafish, for example.

    I put the argument that the same goes for disease: a disease artificially induced in the laboratory is different from that which occurs “in the wild”.

    And a disease artificially induced in a human volunteer is different from one that is naturally transmitted “in the wild”. Because the conditions of the volunteer testing will never be exactly the same as the conditions that occur in regular daily life.

    And a disease naturally transmitted to me is different from a disease naturally transmitted to you, as you and I are not identical.

    By your argument NO testing of ANY kind is ever valid for ANYTHING.

    Put the two together, and you end up with bad science.

    No, you end up with normal science. Variation between test conditions and real-life scenarios are a given in any experiment and are accepted and accounted for as much as possible.

    That is, in fact WHY we have HUMAN tests AFTER animal tests. Because we KNOW the animal test results do not apply completely, but only partially.

  21. Amphiox says

    Also, the lab and wild zebrafish are different from each other.

    It does not follow from this that one is more different from humans than the other, just different in different ways.

    Thus, if one is applicable for medical experimentation, then so is the other. It just means that a different set of variation needs to be accounted for in the experimental design.

  22. wombats101 says

    Would I volunteer? NO, of course not. But, if it makes you feel any better, I already do not take, and have made it well known to my friends and kin that under no circumstances should I be given, any drugs that have been tested on animals. If I die a painful death one day because of that, then so be it. Literally millions of animals suffer and die every year because of these tests, and for what? No, it isn’t in order to save little children foom cancer (I’ll come back to that in a minute) it’s so that people can a pill for their headaches and stomache aches instead of just living and eating more sensibly to begin with.

    Mostly. Yes, I know there is research into “serious” diseases too. But the cancer myth irks me most. Ever since I was little kid in the 60′s I’ve heard every other year a story about how a “cure for cancer is just around the corner”. We’re still waiting. Cancer is as rampant as it ever was. When it is finally conquered, it won’t be a wonder drug from an animal lab that does it, but from a deeper understanding of the human body at a cellular and genetic level.

    Vivisection (in its broadest sense) is outdated and cruel. It may have served a purpose in the Middle Ages, but its time is well past. If you have a headache, sit down and relax – don’t condemn a million rabbits to die just for you, you selfish bastards.

  23. says

    It is what us anti-vivisectionists have been saying for years, and is the core of what makes vivisection bad science.

    Uh, what? No. Wild and lab zebrafish are still both animals, just like us. They have the same genes that interact in similar ways. It is perfectly valid to use lab-bred model organisms to work out the basics of fundamental pathways; to say they are different does not mean that they are completely alien species.

    I am different from you. We’re still the same species. Almost every aspect of our biology is the same.

    What anti-vivisectionists have been doing for years is mangling the science. There is no rationalization for your dangerously stupid opinions in my views, and I’d appreciate it if you did not so egregiously distort my words and misapply logic.

  24. says

    I need to find sources, but I’ve read some interesting research on MP3′s. Specifically MP3′s, due to their compression, a lot of the overtones are actually missing from the music. Appereantly, our brains are good at filling this part in. This supposedly detracts from the overall listening experience as we have to use our “left-brain” more.

  25. Brownian says

    If not, who would you recommend we FORCE to be so tested?

    TAM attendees?

    They love science, and hate consent.

    It’s a win-win.

  26. wombats101 says

    @PZ “I’d appreciate it if you did not so egregiously distort my words”

    OK, that was naughty of me; I apologise – not that I expected anyone here to fall for it. But really, that aside, whart are the results of ther past 50 years of vivisection? Pretty unimpresive, if you ask me. And like I said, when real breakthroughs come, they won’t come out of animal labs. Anyway, I’ll bugger off now and leave you all in peace.

  27. Brownian says

    whart are the results of ther past 50 years of vivisection?

    Way more assholes still alive than the Earth can support.

  28. Ze Madmax says

    Way more assholes still alive than the Earth can support.

    But these assholes do nothing but kill millions of rabbits every time they get headaches. That’s clearly no progress, according to wombats101.

    On the other hand, “vivisection” probably makes it possible to have all these millions of rabbits just running around. So there’s that.

  29. Brownian says

    But these assholes do nothing but kill millions of rabbits every time they get headaches.

    That’s not true. But they do watch Fox News, produce garbage and CO2 by the tonne, and take candid upskirt photos.

    Frankly, at this point, kill whatever you want. But the OMG WE MUST SAVE LIFES AND CURE TINGS NO MATER WAT BECAS WHAT IF IT WAS UR GRAMMA OMG! YOU VOLUNTEAR argument has got to die.

    We don’t have to save lives. We don’t have to cure cancer. We don’t have to keep people alive.

  30. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    wombat, you’re allowed to be stupid and confrontational, but in the era of the internet, such a depth of ignorance as yours can be maintained ONLY by willful effort. It took me 4 seconds to find the following, and about 30 seconds to read it and realized that 18 out of the 20 developments mentioned depended upon animal testing.

    TOP 20 MOST IMPORTANT MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS OF THE LAST 50 YEARS
    As voted by Fellows and Members of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, November 2010*
    1 ANTIBIOTICS: While Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming made the initial discovery of penicillin in 1928 and further antibiotic discoveries were made in the 1940s, the medical application and further development of antibiotics really took off in the 1960s. This has resulted in dramatic declines in death rates and serious ill-health arising from infection.
    2. VACCINATION: the development of vaccines against a range of infectious diseases including small pox (which was eradicated as a result of vaccination in 1977), polio and hepatitis B has resulted in a major shift towards disease prevention.
    3. IMAGING: the development of CT and MRI scanning revolutionised the manner in which the body can be scanned in order to detect disease (i.e. cancer) and inform treatment in a range of disease areas. The University of Aberdeen conducted the first clinical whole-body MRI scan in the world in August 1980.
    4. ANTI-TB THERAPY: the ‘Edinburgh method’ of combined therapy, first developed by Sir John Crofton and his team in the 1950s, has been recognised as the single-most important treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and was adopted worldwide. This significantly reduced death rates from TB in the UK and worldwide and almost eradicated the disease, prior to the more recent emergence of some drug-resistant strains of TB.
    5. TOBACCO CONTROL: recognition of the adverse effects of smoking on lung health (cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and the beneficial effects of actively reducing cigarette smoking has significantly reduced smoking-related death rates and ill-health worldwide. In Scotland, spearheaded by Sir John Crofton, founder of ASH Scotland (1973) and President of the RCPE (1973-76).
    6. ANGIOPLASTY: a surgical technique which widens a narrowed or blocked artery in the heart and has been instrumental in improving the life expectancy and quality of life of people suffering from coronary heart disease (including heart attacks and angina).
    7. RANDOMISED CONTROLLED TRIALS – MODERN USE AND ANALYSIS OF: the system used for testing and measuring the effectiveness of new drug treatments has been developed and refined and now ensures that new drug treatments are safe and clinically effective. The driving force behind this has been the Cochrane Collaboration, an international scientific and medical collaboration, named after Archie Cochrane (a doctor from Galashiels,) who in the 1960s and 1970s advocated the need for conducting randomised controlled trials. The Cochrane Collaboration reviews the evidence produced by these trials. These recommendations may be included within NHS clinical guidelines used by medical staff. In Scotland, the Scottish International Guidelines Network (SIGN), originally established by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of General Practitioners, develops evidence-based clinical guidelines for the NHS in Scotland and has, in the last couple of decades, developed a worldwide reputation for guideline development.
    8. ANTI-VIRAL THERAPY FOR HIV: first available in 1996 and this has transformed the outlook from death in most cases to an expectation of near-normal lifespan for most patients.
    9. STATINS: cholesterol-lowering drugs which are now used extensively in the prevention of heart disease (primarily those at high risk of heart disease and patients who have already experienced a heart attack or stroke). Statins have significantly reduced death rates in these areas.
    © Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 2010
    © Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 2010
    10. KIDNEY DIALYSIS: kidney dialysis provides an artificial replacement for loss of kidney function in patients who experience kidney failure and which would prove fatal if not treated. It ensures that the essential process of removing waste and excess water from the blood is maintained. Kidney dialysis is used to maintain kidney function until a kidney transplant can take place or is used to maintain kidney function in those for whom a transplant would not be suitable.
    11. ACE INHIBITORS: angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart problems and kidney disease. Their use has greatly improved the quality of life for people with heart failure and prevented the development of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
    12. ENDOSCOPY AND LAPAROSCOPIC SURGERY: an endoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube through which doctors can examine inside the body without the need for surgery. Laparoscopic surgery (commonly known as ‘keyhole’ surgery) is a form of minimally invasive surgery by which instruments are inserted through some small incisions in the skin rather than requiring full-scale surgery. Both techniques have revolutionised treatment, improved the experience for patients and improved safety.
    13. TREATMENT FOR STOMACH ULCERS: Scottish scientist Sir James Black won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988 for his work in developing effective drug treatments for stomach ulcers, thus negating the former need for, and risk of, surgery for stomach ulcers.
    14.
    KIDNEY TRANSPLANTATION: the transplantation of a kidney from a donor (living or deceased) into a patient with end-stage kidney disease. The first successful kidney transplant in the UK was performed in Edinburgh by Sir Michael Woodruff and his team on 30 October 1960. A total of 2694 kidney transplants were performed in the UK in 2009-10.
    15.
    BETA-BLOCKERS: beta-blockers reduce the effects of adrenaline on the heart and are used to treat high blood pressure, angina and other forms of heart disease. In 1962, Scottish-born scientist Sir James Black developed a beta-blocker which revolutionised the treatment of angina and is considered by many to be the most significant drug development of the last century.
    16. SPREAD OF MODERN HOSPICE MOVEMENT: from St Christopher’s in London in 1967 (the first hospice “to link expert pain and symptom control, compassionate care, education and clinical research”) to around 200 hospices in the UK today. This has significantly improved the quality of life of terminally ill patients.
    17. LIVER TRANSPLANTATION: 50 years ago it was inconceivable to hope that doctors might be able to offer patients with chronic liver disease the option of replacing their diseased liver with a healthy liver. The first liver transplant was performed in Denver, USA, in 1963. A total of 679 liver transplants were performed in the UK in 2009-10.
    18. INHALED THERAPY: is a form of therapy in which medication is administered into the lungs via an inhaler and is used to alleviate chronic forms of respiratory disease including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Inhaled therapy enables the direct administration of treatment into the lungs, providing a more rapid form of treatment in the case of acute (serious) respiratory symptoms.
    19. WHO ANALGESIC LADDER: the World Health Organisation (WHO) analgesic ladder, developed in 1986, provides a stepped approach to pain management which revolutionised the prescribing of oral opioids for cancer pain and has enabled doctors to manage pain more effectively in patients in all other clinical areas.
    20. ERYTHROPOIETIN: an artificial version of a hormone produced by the kidney which promotes the formation of red blood cells and is used to treat anaemia in patients with kidney disease, cancer and other forms of critical illness. Its use has greatly improved quality of life for patients with advanced kidney disease allowing many to return to normal fitness,

    By my count, that’s tens of millions of people saved (so sorry, Brownian, you have my permission to gnash your teeth), in part, to the application of animal testing. Wombat, you have the moral authority over yourself to die rather than harm a single rabbit; you DO NOT have the moral authority to insist that I, my wife, my son, or any other member of my family die needlessly for your belief.

  31. fullyladenswallow says

    # 29- JJ831:

    Specifically MP3′s, due to their compression, a lot of the overtones are actually missing from the music. Appereantly, our brains are good at filling this part in. This supposedly detracts from the overall listening experience…

    I have heard this statement from one audiophile I used to know and it seems to be true. While not a confirmed audiophile myself, I could definitely tell the difference between a good LP(vinyl) recording of The Canadian Brass playing Pachelbel’s Canon and the same original mastered to a CD I purchased approximately a year or so later when digital recordings hit the market.
    When I played the LP version of the piece on my turntable equipped with a higher end cartridge (cartridge?, what’s a cartridge?), I’d look forward to a rather quiet, intimate passage where each instrument began to truly sound like a human voice humming its part. Coming through floor-standing speakers, it was quite stunning. As you might guess, that same portion played off of the CD version fell flat, the effect was lost. Still, not bad, but rather disappointing.
    The problem is, that the reduction in sonic detail I think, is pretty much lost on those who have grown up with MP3 data played through earbuds since they’ve no baseline reference.
    It would really be wonderful to hear that audio proponents would consider lobbying for some sort of high-def audio standards- an audio Blu-Ray perhaps?

  32. Amphiox says

    But, if it makes you feel any better, I already do not take, and have made it well known to my friends and kin that under no circumstances should I be given, any drugs that have been tested on animals.

    You take no drugs at all then? Because every drug, from the OCP to aspirin, is tested in animals, except perhaps some old traditional ones that were grandfathered in before the pertinent laws were passed.

    They are not, by law, allowed to be sold if they have not gone through the entire sequence of test protocols, from tissue culture to animal test to phase I to phase II to phase III human clinical trials.

  33. Amphiox says

    Cancer is as rampant as it ever was.

    The median survivals for many cancers have been increased enormously, two, three even ten-fold.

    The quality of life for cancer patients has improved enormously.

    None of this would have been possible without animal testing.

    When it is finally conquered, it won’t be a wonder drug from an animal lab that does it, but from a deeper understanding of the human body at a cellular and genetic level.

    It will only be with the help of animal testing that this deeper understanding of the human body at a cellular and genetic level can ever be obtained.

    Or will you volunteer to be the human test subject for investigating that cellular and genetic level?

    And if you will not, who do you propose to FORCE to be the necessary test subjects?

    Or do you prefer to simply let the people suffering from cancer die?

  34. wombats101 says

    #Hairhead, #55

    Penicillin – this was an accident and fluke; were it not for pure luck its discovery might havve been put back years. Flemming wanted to test it on guinea pigs, but could only get hold of rats (or may be the other way round, can’t remember), and hey presto got a result. Had he got the animals he asked for, he would have found it had no effect and may well have moved on, unawares…

    If people didn’t buy into the myth that is animal testing, your loved ones would stand a better chance of not dying needlessly.

    Honestly, arguing with you lot is like arguing with an ID advocatre, or Creationist…

    Right – this time I really asm buggering off.

  35. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Pretty unimpresive, if you ask me.

    Who asked you for your OPINION. And any OPINION given for free like your was is worthless. You need to document your OPINION. I can guarantee you any drug developed as a new chemical entitity underwent animal testing. All regulatory bodies like ICH require it. Because it is unethical to go straight to humans except for very, very narrow circumstances.

    Which is why we keep asking folks like you if you are willing to be the first to test a new drug with unknown in vivo properties. Either you or the rat. Make up your mind and live with the consequences. If you equivocate or dodge the question and answer, you are a hypocrite.

  36. Amphiox says

    Would I volunteer? NO, of course not.

    Good then. Now answer the second question, which you are still avoiding.

    Who would you FORCE to be tested, since you are not willing yourself to volunteer?

    If no one, then who, suffering from what diseases, are you willing to do nothing for, and allow to die?

    If you have a headache, sit down and relax – don’t condemn a million rabbits to die just for you, you selfish bastards.

    Do you eat?

    More rabbits are killed by several orders of magnitude when their habitat is plowed over to create farm fields to grow the crops to supply vegetarian (and other) diets than all the animal testing that has ever been done. Many are directly killed when the plow rips their soft bodies into shreds. Others are buried alive in their burrows. Others, driven from their burrows, are condemned to be torn to pieces, alive, by coyotes, wolves, and eagles. The rest, with their habitat destroyed, starve to death, slowly and painfully.

    None are even given the opportunity to even get anesthetics to take away the pain.

    So, I ask again.

    Do you eat?

  37. Amphiox says

    Vivisection (in its broadest sense) is outdated and cruel.

    There IS NO “broadest” sense for the term “vivisection”. The term refers only to one narrow thing and one narrow thing only.

    To use it in any other context is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order.

  38. Amphiox says

    Penicillin – this was an accident and fluke; were it not for pure luck its discovery might havve been put back years. Flemming wanted to test it on guinea pigs, but could only get hold of rats (or may be the other way round, can’t remember), and hey presto got a result. Had he got the animals he asked for, he would have found it had no effect and may well have moved on, unawares…

    Right, so by your argument here “vivisection” on guinea pigs is bad, but “vivisection” on rats is good!

    So you AREN’T against “vivisection” in general, just against it for some animals, but not for others.

    What pathetic hypocrisy.

    Without the tests on rats penicillin would never have been approved for human use at all, ever.

  39. Brownian says

    Cancer is as rampant as it ever was.

    There are a number of reasons that cancer is more prevalent today, including the fact that people are living longer and cancer detection methods have increased substantially.

    Cancer survival has most definitely increased as well.

    Don’t invoke cancer if you don’t know anything about it.

    Honestly, arguing with you lot is like arguing with an ID advocatre, or Creationist…

    After your misrepresentations of others’ arguments and your ignorance, you’ve lost all ground to use the term ‘honestly’, or to impugn others and claim a lack of research.

  40. Amphiox says

    And like I said, when real breakthroughs come, they won’t come out of animal labs.

    The breakthroughs will “come” from tissue culture labs. They will be VALIDATED in animal labs. They will be CONFIRMED in human trials.

    The entire sequence is required to take the science to the clinical bedside and actually do real people real good.

  41. Brownian says

    Or do you prefer to simply let the people suffering from cancer die?

    Again, this is a stupid argument, Amphiox.

    People suffering for cancer do die, no matter how many animals are tested on.

  42. Thomathy, Holy Trinity of Conflation: Atheist-Secularist-Darwinist says

    Brownian, everyone dies. I don’t see your point. You seem only angry (an understatement, I think) at the fact that some humans are, and that some humans have the capability to be, morally bankrupt, malicious and disgusting in their interactions with other people.

    Amphiox’s point (which can be read indirectly from the context of the section you quoted) is that some people suffering from some cancers don’t need to die because of their cancer. And you know that, or you ought to. Actually, you know, or ought to know, what point was trying to be made, so I think you’re being disingenuous.

    I understand that you have a hatred for the greater part of humanity …I just don’t see why you don’t direct it at the deserved.

  43. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Its not as if researchers are allowed to do anything that they want to (vertebrate) animals, anyway*. Getting permission to do animal research requires a significant expenditure of resources, a very clear analysis of the basic research that compells an animal model, and regular external assessment of practices. If scientists have access to other relevant tools, they have strong incentives to use them.

    Also, David Byrne is the bombiest.

    *It really isn’t all vivisection.

  44. unclefrogy says

    talking about a change the subject that is a long way from music that is influenced by where it is heard played.
    I would bet that one of the “new forms of music” that will become more popular due to the influence of MP3 players and ear buds might be the ambient genera. I don’t think there was much of anything really like it before ear phones became more popular and commonly available. I have not researched it though. great article even if it was not an original thought.

    I have raised rabbits for the table, very efficient meat producers and very tasty and I have tested them in many receipts.

    uncle frogy

  45. jojo says

    Raven – Yes, I’ve noticed Mocking birds mimicking car alarms. The one’s near my office did it up until a few years ago. It seems to have died off since my company put up a fence around our parking lot and car theft is no longer a problem. They do still mimic sea gulls and for some reason I find it very amusing to watch a mocking bird open it’s mouth and have a sea gulls voice come out.

  46. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    wombats – Liar, ignorant, cowardly, hypocritical, specious, sadistic (it is easy to see how you desire the suffering of your fellow humans for the sins you imagine them guilty of), stupid, rigid, intellectually feeble, emotionally subject to woo, insulting (needlessly so) and doctrinaire — you must be a peach to live with.

  47. Amphiox says

    People suffering for cancer do die, no matter how many animals are tested on.

    Ah, but that’s not the point my argument. The point is in the word “let”.

    People do die from cancer. But we don’t let them die.* They die despite our best efforts to keep them alive.

    We try our best to extend their life in both quantity and quality, and we often succeed, and without animal experimentation we would not succeed anywhere near as often.

    To refuse to experiment on animals for cancer research is to say “we don’t want to try. This extension of lifespan and quality of life is not worth it. They’ll die anyways, so just let them. Who cares about giving them another Christmas with their grandkids or three more months to go on that dream vacation? They’re going to die anyways. Just let them.”

    *Notwithstanding palliative cases where we make the decision to focus completely on quality of life and not on quantity. But even here we need medications, and we need animal experimentation to develop those medications.

  48. Amphiox says

    I wonder if the rise of MP3 and other “lossy” formats influence how a composer puts the music together. Will they take into consideration the compression loss and compose in a way to minimize this if they know that their work will be most commonly heard as MP3′s?

  49. says

    @36 fullyladenswallow

    As an FYI, from what I’ve seen, it isn’t all digital music. Take the FLAC format, which is a lossless format and sampled at high levels. Other codecs tend to to better than MP3 as well (such as aac, which is compressed but does a better job than MP3). The main problem with FLAC audio is that each file is MUCH larger than an MP3 – it’s essentially the raw data (much like a RAW digital photo vs. a Jpeg)

    I’ve taken recordings of both old and new vinyl records (yes, there is new music still getting press on vinyl!), in both MP3 (compressed) and FLAC (lossless) codecs. I can tell the diffrence between the two audio files, but can’t really between the FLAC and the actual vinyl.

    I have always felt that Vinyl has a much ‘warmer’ sound. I purchased the Fleet Foxes -Helplessness Blues which when purchased came with a Vinyl, CD and digital download. Being a very harmonic folk album, the Vinyl is by far the best of the three. If I record the vinyl as a FLAC, though, it sounds better then the CD.

  50. says

    I have no background in music whatsoever, nor any musical talent. However, I passed the Salon link along to a friend who has been playing in a band for decades and who is highly educated in a non-musical field. He writes,

    I disagree with him in almost every way possible. The short answer is he’s putting the cart before the horse. The long answer involves neuroscience, my own experiences with composition, and the three Bs — Bach, Beethoven and The Beatles … although almost any other composer will do, possibly even those who are doing work for hire for a very specific venue.

    I’m not entirely sure how to parse the “three Bs” as criticisms specific to Byrne’s writing.

  51. Amphiox says

    I’m not entirely sure how to parse the “three Bs” as criticisms specific to Byrne’s writing.

    It may in part be the fact that a whole punch of Bach’s stuff was composed on a harpsichord or clavichord, but today (and basically since soon after Bach’s own death, if not his own lifetime) is performed almost exclusively on a piano.

  52. erikthebassist says

    Amphiox,

    Certainly not when composing, but when engineering and mastering a recording, you won’t find people counting on the fact that their music will only ever be heard on an mp3 player. They still want the best possible sonic quality, that some people will ruin that by listening to an mp3 version can’t be helped.

  53. Brownian says

    To refuse to experiment on animals for cancer research is to say “we don’t want to try.

    No, it’s to say I won’t necessarily push another in front of a trolley to save five more.

    Who cares about giving them another Christmas with their grandkids or three more months to go on that dream vacation?

    Don’t be dense. It’s not a matter of Who cares? it’s a matter of determining what we’re willing to do for that extra Christmas.

    We aren’t, for instance, willing to ban private vehicles though that would save lives.

    We try our best to extend their life in both quantity and quality

    What fucking society do you live in where this is the case? It certainly isn’t any developed society I know of wherein both expensive cancer treatments and homeless people exist.

    It’s completely disingenuous to argue that we’re a society that recognises the primacy of lives that are free of death, disease and disability, as much as possible. In fact, the only time this seems to be the case is when we’re arguing whether or not organisms unable to consent to being sacrificed should be sacrificed for the good of a Normal Rockwell painting.

  54. erikthebassist says

    ftr, as a musician, I can buy this theory about music being composed to fit the space it will be performed in prior to the advent of recording, and the same may still hold true of classical and opera, but pop music? mmm, not so much.

    Hip hop isn’t JUST played in cars, it’s also played on home stereo systems, personal music players, and in clubs. With most modern artists, they can count on having to perform their music in an almost endless variety of spaces and situations. Instrumentation may even change from venue to venue. After all the hype about sonic quality what you are left with is the song, the hook, the melody. The sonic space has little to do with great songwriting imho.

    On another note…

    I met David Byrne once, nice guy, but horrible BO. Of course he had just come from the airport and was on tour so who knows how long it had been since he’d seen the inside of a hotel room but holy hell he burned the hair out of my nostrils.

  55. robro says

    I had my own little eve devo musical experience Saturday night. I mostly play music at home alone, but occasionally attend a jam session. At the jam the other night I started playing a song that I’ve worked on quite a lot that’s a little unusual. After I started the song, though, I realized that I had to modify what I do so that the other musicians could follow.

  56. Amphiox says

    What fucking society do you live in where this is the case?

    The same one you live in.

    You do realize, don’t you, that I treat patients suffering from cancer for a living?

  57. infraredeyes says

    I would bet that one of the “new forms of music” that will become more popular due to the influence of MP3 players and ear buds might be the ambient genera. I don’t think there was much of anything really like it before ear phones became more popular and commonly available. I have not researched it though.

    Brian Eno recorded at least two vinyl albums called “Ambient Music” in the 1970s, one of them specifically labeled “Music for Airports”. I own a couple of them, and would characterize them as, indeed, ambient music in the sense of “background music”, but for large spaces. I don’t think they work that well through headphones. Then again, I rarely enjoy music through headphones; headphones are for spoken word.

  58. fullyladenswallow says

    @35 JJ831:

    Thanks for the info. Need to read up more on FLAC then.
    I still regret having to leave my vinyl behind when I had to relocate during the extremely hot weather (hence, the U-Haul oven). Even if I had packed them tightly, they might have warped concentrically anyway.

  59. Brownian says

    You do realize, don’t you, that I treat patients suffering from cancer for a living?

    And I work in cancer surveillance, providing data to individuals such as you, as well as monitoring rates, potential clusters, and so on. I’m not in the least doubting your commitment, nor that of other oncology docs, techs, nurses, or other professionals in trying to reduce the suffering due to cancer.

    What I’m denying is that the argument that we, as a society, do pull out all the stops when it comes to extending life is at all true (let alone should.)

    If you’d like to see an example of “we don’t want to try”, try to put a research proposal through ethics wherein you ask for potentially identifiable data. I’ve seen research proposals go through that are such obvious fishing expeditions that the only thing missing is a line item for hip waders, and yet I’ve seen good research—potentially life saving even—get turned down because there is a remote probability that a patient could be identified by the researchers.

    These are all real-world trolley problems. If “but it could save lives” isn’t a carte blanche justification for anything else—trust me: public health is an exercise in having marginal effects because the really effective life-saving measures would require political and economic will that is virtually non-existent—why should it be invoked in these discussions as if it were?

    Given both of our current careers, we’re both very lucky that cancer affects old, rich, white people as well.

  60. says

    Um, i thought this was about sound and how the soundscape may shape natural selection. Allow me to redirect.

    My class discussed this very issue last week (a study abroad seminar in Australia). We read, among other things, this article by Kim Tingley from the NYTimes magazine:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/magazine/is-silence-going-extinct.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=tingley&st=nyt

    We discussed the idea of “deep listening” and our own experiences of listening to the wind in the trees, the lapping of waves, the sounds of night insects. It’s hard here in the city (Fremantle), but over east in the Goldfields bush we could hear every little night noise from our swags. Looking up at the stars, reconnecting with the natural soundscape, it’s hard not to believe that hearing and all of our sensory inputs shape the way we humans have evolved…of course they have!

    For the lifelong learners out there — see Yi Fu Tuan’s wonderful little book called “Space and Place” for more on how sensory experience shapes our sense of place and community.

    Marcus

  61. Brownian says

    Um, i thought this was about sound and how the soundscape may shape natural selection.

    It is. I apologise for my part in the derail.

  62. unclefrogy says

    I was specifically thinking of the music put out by Hearts Of Space music
    http://www.hos.com/#free-stuff

    as to the argument about actually treating people and the research into treating people. I think there is a difference between those two things.
    if you ain’t got the do-re-mi come back when you do and we’ll talk.

    uncle frogy

  63. ibyea says

    @Brownian
    Don’t apologize. You didn’t start the derail, some troll up there did. Plus, I think the conversation was interesting.

  64. Musical Atheist says

    #9 Machintelligence – You might know this already: Tallis was probably influenced by Alessandro Striggio, who wrote a 40-voice motet ‘Ecce beatam lucem’ and a 40-60-voice mass and was travelling in England in 1567. Shortly after this, Tallis wrote ‘Spem in alium’ (c1570), but as you said, made the venue an integral part of the way the motet was structured.

  65. John Phillips, FCD says

    @fullyladenswallow, there’s a whole range of lossless encoders that will save space compared to a raw file, e.g. .wav file, not just FLAC, though some are proprietary. Just search Google for lossless audio encoders. FLAC is probably the best for general use and supported by the most hardware but there are arguably better ones for purely archival purposes.

  66. John Phillips, FCD says

    Oh and I forgot to mention, though it should obvious from the word lossless, if you don’t like one lossless format, you can convert to another lossless format and retain 100% fidelity. Not something you can do with the lossy ones.

  67. carbonbasedlifeform says

    , I already do not take, and have made it well known to my friends and kin that under no circumstances should I be given, any drugs that have been tested on animals.

    In which case, you will take no drugs at all. I assume you are also a vegan. Tell me, have you considered becoming a Jain?

  68. bryanfeir says

    Interestingly, this is the second mention of David Byrne I was hearing today. The first being this morning when Jian Ghomeshi (previously of Moxy Früvous) talking about the book he’s putting out (1982), and mentioning a chapter on The Police Picnic II in 1982, where he first saw the Talking Heads, and what a formative moment in his life that was.

    One of his comments in the interview is that the whole ‘voyage of musical discovery’ is a lot less necessary these days, as you can find just about anything you want relatively easily now. This has both its good and bad aspects: you can find anything, but people often feel less invested in their finds as a result.