Victor Wooten discusses being born into a musical family in a TED talk entitled Music as a Language. In contrast, Alex Lifeson as a teenager clashes with his parents about choosing music over school in an excerpt from the documentary Come On Children.
A translated version of Avicii's "Wake Me Up" recently broke the record for highest number of views for an Irish language video. It's just the most popular example of the headline-grabbing music videos being made at Coláiste Lurgan, an Irish language summer school for teenagers. Their other popular videos include An tAdh 'Nocht (Get Lucky), Tóg Amach Mé (Wagon Wheel), Pompeii, and Amhrán na gCupán (When I'm Gone). Interview with the school's manager here, setting out his mission. See more songs on YouTube and Bandcamp.
"Mele Kalikimaka" (Ukelele cords) is a Hawaiian-themed Christmas song written in 1949 by Robert Alex Anderson. The phrase is borrowed directly from English but since Hawaiian has a different phonological system - Hawaiian does not have the /r/ or /s/ of English and doesn't have the phonotactic constraints to allow consonants at the end of syllables or consonant clusters - "Merry Christmas" becomes "Mele Kalikimaka". Enjoy the canonical version with Bing Crosby And The Andrew Sisters (lounge remix) or by KT Tunstall or Bette Milder or Jimmy Buffet or Gianni And Sarah or The Puppini Sisters or Reel Big Fish or Country Western style or pared down instrumental or Celtic Rock style or performed on the Metro by Pokey LaFarge or ..whatever the hell this is.
The only way to become fluent in a language is to actively mimic the speech sounds of native speakers. Idahosa (ee-DAO-ssah) Ness has developed a language learning system based on music and mimicry.
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! It's been nearly two decades since that glorious savanna sunrise, and once again The Lion King is at the top of the box office. It's a good chance to revisit what made the original the capstone of the Disney Renaissance, starting with the music. Not the gaudy show tunes or the Elton John ballads, but the soaring, elegiac score by Hans Zimmer which, despite winning an Oscar, never saw a full release outside of an unofficial bootleg. Luckily, it's unabridged and high-quality, allowing one to lay Zimmer's haunting, pulse-pounding, joyful tracks alongside the original video (part 2, 3, 4), revealing the subtle leitmotifs and careful matching of music and action. In addition, South African collaborator Lebo M wove traditional Zulu chorals into the score, providing veiled commentary on scenes like this; his work was later expanded into a full album, the Broadway stage show, and projects closer to his heart. Speaking of expanded works, there were inevitable sequels -- all of which you can experience with The Lion King: Full Circle (download guide), a fan-made, three-hour supercut of the original film and its two follow-ups. Want more? Look... harder... [more inside]
Over the past 13 years, Berlin resident Klaus Beyer has translated the Beatles' entire oeuvre into German, recording the translated songs in his home studio and releasing them on CDs with titles like Gummi Seele, Kloster strasse and Das Gelbe Underwasserboot, even recreating the cover artwork of the originals. [more inside]
Geert Chatrou is a whistling maestro. Mozart's Queen of the Night | Czardas Monti. Other amazing whistling and whistlers inside. [more inside]
Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing. Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree (while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention). The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic to Icelandic to Zulu gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog, debuted in more than forty tongues. Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes and one-line comparisons, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights: "One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali," and "A Whole New World" (Aladdin) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Luau!" (The Lion King) - "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (The Little Mermaid) - "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" (Beauty and the Beast) - "Just Around the Riverbend" (Pocahontas) - "One Song" and "Heigh-Ho" (Snow White) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Cinderella) - Medley (Pinocchio) - "When She Loved Me" (Toy Story 2) - Intro (Monsters, Inc.)
The Beatles in German: "Sie liebt dich" ("She Loves You"); "Komm gib mir deine Hand" ("I Want to Hold Your Hand"); "Geh raus" (quick and dirty rendering of "Get Back"); "Mein Herz ist bei dir nur" (Tony Sheridan and the Beat Boys' version of "My Bonnie".) [more inside]
What do Singing in the Rain, Live Is Life, Don't Worry, Be Happy, I Will Survive and Ça fait rire les oiseaux have in common? In a study, French-speaking Internet users identified these five pop songs out of 100, as the most pernicious earworms. Here are their top 25 picks from BRAMS, including audio clips. [more inside]
Music and the Brain The Library of Congress' Music and the Brain podcasts offer lectures and conversations about new research at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and music. Sufi rituals, Wednesday is Indigo Blue (synaesthesia), Your Brain on Jazz, The Music of Language and the Language of Music, and more.
Corey Arcangel is perhaps the internet's most infamous hack, masher-upper, digi/net artist. His work stands for a growing culture of artists who run wildly through animated GIF landscapes populated with corrupted data-compressed bunny rabbits and tinny, MIDI renditions of Savage Garden ballads. As the Lisson Gallery, London, opens its archives to Arcangel's curatorial eye, could digi/net art be set to infect the real, fleshy world, like a rampant Conficker Worm? Has YouTube become the truest reflection of our anthropological selves? Are we destined to roam the int3erw£bs like the mythic beasts of yore, hoping, in time, that digi art can free us from the confines of this fleshy void? [...previously]
Western musical intervals are derived from speech tendencies, according to Duke scientists. Specifically, "most of the 12 chromatic scale intervals correspond to peaks of relative power in the normalized spectrum of human vocalizations." A somewhat more layperson-friendly summary of the study is here. [more inside]
Now that's what I call diplomacy! The US ambassador to Paraguay has become a music sensation in the country after recording an album of folk songs in the indigenous Guarani language. [more inside]
Essential tones of music rooted in human speech. Original Duke University paper by Deborah Ross, Jonathan Choi and Dale Purves [pdf].
Happy Blue Moon! A dear friend IM'd me today, and told me it was blue moon... which was funny, because we had just been talking about it the day before — oblivious of tonight's occurance. Don't know what a blue moon is? Well, wikipedia has the answer, of course... In the mood for a little music? Well, you can always download the The Marcels classic or just sing the song yourself with a little help... or throw caution to the wind, and listen to Pink Moon instead.
Next step: English Video helping kids learn roman script
Fascination with ground and figure carries on in various fields after The Rubin vase / face Illusion, M.C. Escher, and Marshall McLuhan. Besides being extremely important in the fields of photography and poetry, the figure/ground relationship is important to physicist Paul Davies, who says "the true miracle of nature is to be found in the ingenious and unswerving lawfulness of the cosmos, a lawfulness that permits complex order to emerge from chaos, life to emerge from inanimate matter, and consciousness to emerge from life." Also, Peter Grundy and Yiang Yan discuss how contextual ground relates to linguistic figure in Bill Clinton's famous apology, Andrew Graydon plays with the distinction between sound as environment and sound as music, and W.C. Richardson creates paintings in which "positive and negative spaces seem unstable; figure becomes ground, ground becomes figure."
Subtitles on the radio. Last night Radio 1, the BBC's flagship youth station, broadcast an hour of Welsh language music and chat. The webcast includes subtitles.
Tunes create context like language : "musical notes are strung together in the same patterns as words in a piece of literature". Full paper. On a related note, hone your musical comprehension by playing with Impromptu. Better yet, co-ordinate it with this MIT OpenCourse - Developing Musical Structures.
You probably didn't know this site existed, and that it's as useful as dictionary.com and thesarus.com. The Rhymezone is quick to become the poet and songwriter's killer app. I wish it had better dictionary integration though.