Cry-olin: musical instruments convey human emotion by mimicking speech

Singers can convey a lot of emotion in the tone of their voices: a trembling sound might denote sadness, and a voice can also “smile”. But new research shows that non-vocal instruments can also use these tricks to convey emotion. Described in a paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, a team … Continue reading Cry-olin: musical instruments convey human emotion by mimicking speech

You say you want a revolution

Is there anything artificial intelligence can’t improve? A physicist and Beatles fan embarks on the search for the perfect song lyric. QUIZ Can you identify the songs? Pictures comprise all the words of the song (except its title), size calculated by frequency of use. 1 point for title and 1 point for artist; answers at … Continue reading You say you want a revolution

Good (spider) vibrations

The fascinating properties of spider webs could now be explored in an entirely new dimension: through music. The experience could offer not only new musical inspiration but also insights into how spiders create their masterpieces, according to scientists who are presenting their findings at the online Spring meeting of the American Chemical Society from 5–16 … Continue reading Good (spider) vibrations

End of a musical era (II): Lou Ottens

Dutch engineer and inventor Lodewijk Frederik Ottens, who’s credited with inventing the cassette tape, died on 6 March 2021 at his home in Duizel, the Netherlands. He was 94. This news will resonate with a great many people, even though they didn’t know Lou Ottens. That’s because there was a time, way back in the … Continue reading End of a musical era (II): Lou Ottens

End of a musical era (I): Rupert Neve

Arthur Rupert Neve died on 12 February 2021, in his adoptive home of Wimberley, Texas. People who don’t know him by name are probably familiar with aspects of his work. In its obituary for him, Britain’s Telegraph newspaper calls Neve a “recording genius regarded as the ‘father’ of the modern mixing console – the massive board with hundreds of … Continue reading End of a musical era (I): Rupert Neve

Conch shell tones

How old-fashioned is your taste in music? Researchers have recreated notes from a 17,000-year-old conch shell, found in a cave in southern France. Discovered in the Marsoulas Cave, just north of the Pyrenees mountains, in 1931, the shell was initially thought to be a drinking cup. But a more detailed analysis, published today in the … Continue reading Conch shell tones

You may have missed…

Last week featured a wide range of stories that either made us smile or have a little giggle. We’ve rounded a few of them up for your Monday morning.  Naked mole-rats speak in dialect It’s not only humans who can be identified by the diversity of their languages: it turns out naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) … Continue reading You may have missed…

Musicians networked brains

Musicians have more brain connections than non-musicians, according to new research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, and these connections are stronger in those who started training at a younger age. This difference appeared whether or not musicians have perfect or absolute pitch, a rare talent to identify a musical note without any reference, and signifies the benefit … Continue reading Musicians networked brains

Mental health messages between the beats

Popular rap songs are increasingly alluding to depression and suicide and mixing in metaphors about mental health struggles, according to a new study. Such references more than doubled in the two decades from 1998 to 2018 – the year rap outsold country to become the best-selling genre of music in the US – researchers from … Continue reading Mental health messages between the beats

Music without a sound

There’s more to our appreciation of music than its sound, according to an Australian study published in the journal PLOS ONE. It found that people can have emotional reactions to music based solely on its genre. “This is one of the first studies which tells us that how we emotionally respond to music might not … Continue reading Music without a sound

Lyrics don’t matter in a good lullaby

Babies love lullabies and they aren’t fussy about what language we sing them in, a new study suggests. When researchers at Harvard University played 16 songs from regions as diverse as Polynesia and the Middle East – and sung in everything from Scottish Gaelic to Native America Hopi – the results were largely the same. … Continue reading Lyrics don’t matter in a good lullaby