TNET 40: The Power of the Pentatonic Scale

I find this video absolutely fascinating. I have no idea what a pentatonic scale is and how it differs from the other scales that are there out there. I tried to read up on it and, as it is usual with music, I comprehended none of it. And no, do not try and explain this to me, it is a waste of time (despite rq’s and consciousness razor’s best efforts in the past, I still have no clue what bar and meter are).

But even so, I was able to hum this melody along, I understood what the next tone in the scale should be on an instinctive level and that simple melody has proven to be a real earworm, I could not get rid of it for days.

Open thread, talk whatevers, just don’t be an a*hole about it.

Previous thread.

Musical Cheese

This story has aged well in my archives, like a good, sharp cheddar (or perhaps flat?).

Last September, Swiss cheesemaker Beat Wampfler and a team of researchers from the Bern University of Arts placed nine 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese in individual wooden crates in Wampfler’s cheese cellar. Then, for the next six months each cheese was exposed to an endless, 24-hour loop of one song using a mini-transducer, which directed the sound waves directly into the cheese wheels.

So, what kind of music does cheese enjoy?

The “classical” cheese mellowed to the sounds of Mozart’s The Magic FluteThe “rock” cheese listened to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” An ambient cheese listened to Yello’s “Monolith,” the hip-hop cheese was exposed to A Tribe Called Quest’s “Jazz (We’ve Got)” and the techno fromage raved to Vril’s “UV.” A control cheese aged in silence, while three other wheels were exposed to simple high, medium and low frequency tones.

Well, that’s not a huge range of choices, plus six months of the same song, over and over? It’s enough to curdle the blood in my musical ear, that’s for sure.

Ah, you say – cheese doesn’t have ears! True. This issue was resolved by applying music directly to cheese:

The wheels were stored in wooden crates and played 24 consecutive hours of either classical, hip-hop, techno, ambient, or rock and roll. Rather than speakers, the researchers attached small transmitters to the wheels to relay the sound waves directly into the cheese.

Bern University of the Arts

I have my doubts, of course, but until I have my own dairy farm and cheese making equipment to attempt a reproduction of this experimental method, it sounds pretty good to me.

In anticipation of the annual celebration of, among other things, cheese, here’s an indirectly thematic song:

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, Jack and I did venture out yesterday. Twice. About 1 in the afternoon, the sun came out for an hour or so, and the sidewalks got all melty and full of slush. It seemed like a good time to go for a walk, and so we did. It was a delightful walk, too. Sloppy and cold, but not really icy. The sun started to melt the ice off the trees and the wires, but it didn’t shine long enough to raise the temp above zero, and so today, the trees are still frosted. Jack and I went out again after supper, and the sidewalk slush had turned into rough frozen ice. It wasn’t as slippery as I’d thought. The snow that covered the ice helped rough it up, and the soles of my boots were mostly able to find traction. Even Jack managed better with only 1 slip and no falls. Today the world remains frosted with ice and snow, and I love the way things look. There’s so much more light, and it reflects like millions of tiny, shiny diamonds in the glow of streetlights at night and the short glimpses of the sun today. The walking is difficult, but not dangerous. Most people have shovelled, and what ice remains is rough and well trampled. We need to go slow and shuffle a bit, but it’s so pretty outside I don’t mind.

 

Here’s another song for today. I sing this song when I’m on the beach ins the summer looking for sea glass because they shine like diamonds when you find them. Today the whole world is made of diamonds. And of course, we’re all as bright, and beautiful as diamonds ourselves, so let’s all shine a bit today, too.

 

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

We had freezing rain all day yesterday, and it’s left our world coated in ice and a perilous place for walking. Jack and I set out early yesterday morning, just as the ice was starting, because I thought it might be the only window of opportunity for the whole day and I was right, The ice began to coat everything quickly, and a minute or two after leaving the house it was already slick walking. We went once around the big block, very slowly and cautiously. Mostly I walked on the grass, but Jack preferred the sidewalk because the grass was sharp with ice, and he was wearing vaseline boots that don’t have a decent protective tread* like mine. Jack did fine until we reached the places where the sidewalk slopes. Even four-footed Jack struggled once or twice with his balance on the sloped driveways. Poor Bubba found himself sliding sideways toward the street a few times, and in trying to correct himself, he had one or another of his back legs slip out. Then I’d see him freeze and dig his toenails into the ice and look up to me, asking what to do next. I encouraged him to use the grass a few times, but he said it hurt his feet and that made sense, so then I encouraged him to walk on the street, but Jack’s been raised to stay away from the road, and it’s so ingrained that he doesn’t like to do it. By the time we got home, the ice was already building up a thick coating on everything, and we both felt lucky to reach the house upright and undamaged. We didn’t leave the house again for the rest of the day.

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

We may not leave the house today, either. Today, we’re getting snow on top of the ice, making things even slipperier and more dangerous. No one has yet put down any salt, and it’s treacherous out there. Jack says he can use the backyard if he needs the toilet, and I thanked him very much for his consideration. Jack has seen me go Boom!, on the ice a few times in his life, and it always upsets him. When it’s slippery, Jack automatically slows down, and as he walks, he keeps looking over his shoulder to see how I’m doing. He’s such a good boy. Maybe I should try to take him out – just around the small block. What do you think – Should I stay or should I go?

 

  • I tried a set of real dog boots for Jack a few years back, and he wanted no part of them!

 

 

 

 

Slavic Saturday

This post too is a sort-of crossover between Behind the Iron Curtain and Slavic Saturday.

Karel Gott was an important figure of Czech culture. He was a stable star of our music scene for sixty years – my whole life and some more. His parents wanted him to have a respectable working-class job, but he wanted to be an artist – specifically a painter. But by coincidence, he ended up famous not as a painter, but as a singer.

He was exceptional in one way – even during the communist regime, he became very popular in West Germany, to the point that the regime went to quite a long way to actually keep him as a valuable source of revenue. So after he once overstayed his visa, the president himself has pleaded with him to return. He was allowed to come back and he was not punished for flirting with emigration.

However, he has somehow managed to not tarnish his name by any shady collaborations with the regime – too much. Most of his support was by filling concert halls and selling records, and only once did he openly shill, by reading a pre-prepared speech chastising the movement Charter 77.

But his popularity was such that even after the regime fell, it did not suffer. He got involved in the velvet revolution just enough to show he knows where the political wind is blowing, and afterward continued as if nothing happened. There were attempts to dig up dirt on him, and he did indeed do some stupid things when he was young, but nothing could shake his star from the top of Czech musical heaven. He was a bit of a clueless idiot when it came to politics – for example, he thought that Trump is a good politician and that refugee crisis in Europe is a result of some conspiracy – but that could not tarnish his reputation either in a nation of clueless racist idiots, so there’s that.

Nothing could shake him. Nothing but death. He died this week after a prolonged battle with leukemia, at the age of 80.

I did not particularly like him. I do not know why, but his singing has always rubbed me the wrong way. I never found his voice to be pleasant to listen to, with some exceptions. But I have always felt some connection to him, partly because we share the first name and partly because he was simply everywhere.  I have also read his book “Říkám to písní” (I say it with a song) and he seemed like a reasonably nice person then. But his opinions about Trump and his conspiratorial theorizing were just daft babblings of a privileged dude who has no clue. I have mixed feelings now.

He recorded this song in 1966 when he was young and I was not born yet. But it is a song about the inevitable end of his star and his life and for some reason one of those that I like.

Holidays: Friday Feathers

Two marvellous birds from the Zoo

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

 

 

And as an unrelated bonus:

A video I stumbled across indulging in my love for Peter, Paul and Mary: Puff, the Magic Dragon.

What I love about the performance isn’t so much the artists, but the audience who is singing along, or at least mouthing the words, from the toddler to the grandpa.

Once Upon A Time in Madrid

Or should I say “madrid”? ;D

Second week of May, I spent a full workweek in Madrid for a working group meeting, and it was a fantastic time (as always). Besides the science-y, political-y days (there’s a lot of discussion about legislation and quality standards, not just the fun research and applications stuff), the organizers had planned out a couple of very interesting cultural evenings, and I found myself quite pleasantly surprised by the city in general. It had a very different feel from Rome (last year) – much cleaner, much more organized, more expansive – which I liked, but the organized part works mostly if you’re not driving a car – never mind the six lanes and wide roads, vehicle traffic in Madrid is atrocious (in my opinion!).

Anyway, the weather held out, the people were wonderful, and my first night the lovely hotel staff pointed me towards (what felt like a) very local cafe-restaurant, where, despite the language barrier and despite clearly being not local, I felt very welcome and extremely well-fed (I had octopus). I went back a second time prior to leaving, which I usually don’t do, but it had that perfect mix of being taken care of and being left alone, which was exactly what I needed.

I have a series on chandeliers in the Royal Palace, but for now, here’s just some small details from that particular cultural visit:

Just a small house… © rq, all rights reserved.

If I was a moth… © rq, all rights reserved.

… there would be so much to love. © rq, all rights reserved.

Secret lions peeking out everywhere! © rq, all rights reserved.

To be honest, they look a little sad. © rq, all rights reserved.

It’s all fun and games. © rq, all rights reserved.

And maybe some more serious faces. © rq, all rights reserved.

One thing that did leave an impression was the collection of Stradivarius instruments – it’s true that brands are often over-rated, and I’m not too big on the detailed decorations on my instruments, but as a former violinist, it still left an impact to see these famous instruments in one room. I’d have to hear them to judge their quality, but the craftspersonship of the construction (and the artistry of the detail) is undoubtedly something else.

© rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

Today’s music selection, which felt like it suits the historical theme, is from Latvian Voices – I found this particular performance of theirs via a post answering the question “what is it like to be a woman in the music business?” (that’s a link to their FB page, I don’t know how to link to that post specifically):

As a female group, we’ve been questioned many times about the topic of “how it is to be a woman in the music business?!” We took it very seriously and made research in music history looking on our female colleagues back in the day. As a result, we found ourselves willing to perform more music written by female composers or music which is dedicated to strong and powerful women all over the world.
Please, enjoy our contribution to Frau Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn – the song “Die Mainacht”, poem by Ludwig Heinrich Christoph Hölty.

Video: Kaspars Teilāns
Sound: Andris Ūze
Make-up: Ilona Zariņa
Style Cita Rota

A Progression of Beautiful Mornings

It’s been a while and I’ve collected quite a few, so here, all at once, is a collection of mornings at the train station, from about mid-January to the very beginning of April. It all starts out quite dark, gloomy and melodramatic, as January ought to be – it is, after all, the depth of cruel winter, and the freezing grip of the season is unrelenting…

January. ©rq, all rights reserved.

February. ©rq, all rights reserved.

Beginning of March. ©rq, all rights reserved.

[Read more…]

Mystical Worlds

No, this will not be another black hole post, although if you haven’t seen it yet, quickly:

First ever direct image of a black hole! The supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87 — 6.5 billion times as massive as the Sun! The image is better than I expected!

As tweeted by Katie Mack (@AstroKatie).

Instead, I found some art! Some spooky art that speaks to me, because despite the darkness, they don’t leave me feeling sad – there’s a loneliness that I enjoy because it has strength and conviction. Anyway, may I introduce you to Dawid Planeta – Artist Illustrates His Battle With Depression as a Mystical World of Spirit Animals, via My Modern Met:

A small figure appears throughout the poignant series, perhaps representing Planeta himself. He’s seen wandering through the fog-filled labyrinth, bravely facing the ominous jungle animals who feature glowing eyes that illuminate the darkness. They seem to be guiding him through the deep jungle, “to find his inner strength, find the light and come back with it.” And, Planeta explains, “When he knows who he is, he goes there again, this time without fear. He goes there because it’s a part of who he is. It’s a part of human nature you can’t ignore. You need to know all parts of life, dark and bright.”

Despite the difficulty of dealing with depression, Planeta managed to channel his feelings into creativity. “Depression—it’s not easy to deal with, but when you try, you can stop thinking about it as a weakness and turn it into something brilliant,” he says. “That’s what I aim to accomplish with my art. Things I’m trying to depict are dark, mysterious and frightening, but if you look closely, you will find excitement, passion and joy. Just open your mind and see.”

One example before the cut, for more keep reading:

by Dawid Planeta

[Read more…]