During the 1940s, Harvard University's psycho-acoustic laboratory--installed in the boiler room under Memorial Hall--was a center of secret, government-directed wartime research into the effects of sound on the human ear and mind. One obscure product of this work became known as the Harvard Sentences, a set of "phonetically balanced" sentences containing a mix of phonemes typical to conversational English. These sentences are still used today by Verizon's baseline engineers, among others. Gizmodo's Sarah Zhang has more on the history of the Harvard Sentences. Meanwhile, over at Tedium, Ernie Smith offers a T-Mobile test number (858-651-5050) where you can listen to a recording of several Harvard Sentences, calling it "pretty much the most poetic, automated thing I’ve ever heard." A full list of the Harvard Sentences can be viewed here. [more inside]
Your guide to nearly every audio, video, film, and data media format that's ever existed. Or, browse formats in order of the decade they became "obsolete" - arguably, anyway. [more inside]
What if you could cut out the noise in your life? No more crying babies on planes. No city sirens. No rude people on cellphones in the subway. Silicon Valley startup Doppler Labs has created earbuds that will let you filter out some of the more migraine-inducing sounds in your life.
Mind Webs: semi-dramatized readings of classic science fiction stories by Le Guin, Ballard, Wolfe, Clarke, Dick, Bester, Bradbury, Sheckley, Lafferty, Leiber, Merril, Brunner, Russ, Davidson, Matheson, Vonnegut, deFord, Asimov, Counselman, Spinrad, Bloch, Niven, Clingerman, Harrison, Sturgeon, Aldiss, Knight, Saberhagen, Saxton, Pohl, Silverburg, Cheever, Zelazny, Farmer, Simak, Dybek, Dahl, Priest, and many others. Originally broadcast between the late 70s and early 90s by WHA (AM) of Madison, Wisconsin. [more inside]
The Yamanote Line is the most famous and well-travelled train line in Tokyo. Each station on the Yamanote plays a song (eki-melo, "train melody", 発車メロディ or "hassha melody") when trains are about to depart, differing by platform, direction and station. Click any post to listen to that station's eki-melo! (Links to sound clips can be tricky to discern - begin with the station list, find a station you like and then click on the title of song which follows the platform & station names.) [more inside]
From Zug Island to Bristol to British Columbia, interest in a mysterious humming sound continues. Colin Dickey investigates The World Hum Map and Database Project, its creator, and some recent experiments, including the first Deming box. Stops along the way include TACAMO, tin foil hats, school shootings, Jesse Ventura's tv show, and noise-abatement laws. [more inside]
All 29 episodes of That Mitchell and Webb Sound, the radio precursor to David Mitchell and Robert Webb's celebrated television sketch show. [more inside]
Judges, academics, pundits and activists keep wondering how children are impacted by gay marriage. Maybe it’s time to ask the kids. A rich media photo essay coupled with audio interviews, by Gabriela Herman. [more inside]
Full cast radio adaptations of The Big Sleep, The Lady in the Lake, Farewell My Lovely, The Long Goodbye, The High Window, and three more Raymond Chandler mysteries. Starring Toby Stephens as Philip Marlowe.
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" [Wiki]
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" is a phrase from an editorial called Is There a Santa Claus?. The editorial appeared in the September 21, 1897, edition of The (New York) Sun and has since become part of popular Christmas folklore in the United States. It is the most reprinted editorial in any English-language newspaper.[more inside]
In 1981, NPR affiliate station KUSC hatched a bold plan to adapt George Lucas’ Star Wars for radio. Easily the most visual film of the last decade, Star Wars as a listening experience seemed like an unlikely idea, but Lucas sold them the rights to adapt the hit movie for one dollar, and opened the Lucasfilm vaults to the show’s producers: Star Wars sound effects would be available to them in their raw form, along with every note of John Williams’ music. The cast was a mixture of original Star Wars cast members, Hollywood veterans, and future TV and movie stars still in the early stages of their careers. Novelist Brian Daley and Director John Madden then turned the first three films into "movies to watch with your eyes closed." [more inside]
"i put 'All I Want for Christmas is You' through a MIDI converter, and then back through an mp3 converter. the result is this garbage" (SLaudio)
George Saunders reads short short stories by Grace Paley and Barry Hannah and discusses them with Deborah Treisman, fiction editor of The New Yorker. The podcast is less than 40 minutes long and each of the stories fit on a single page of the magazine.
Barbiephonic, an audio experiment from mhoye
Of the six attempts [to listen to the whole file] I’m aware of, four were called off when the death threats started, one due to the near-breakup of the couple making the attempt, and one person drinking themselves to unconsciousness at about the 90 minute mark. I’m not saying that to make a joke. I’m telling you because this is real and it’s an SCP-grade psychic biohazard. No highly esteemed deed was committed here; this is not a place of honour.[more inside]
The analogy Kraus uses is that the world around us is like a great concert — and our brains are a mixing board. How that mixing board translates what we’re hearing can have a profound impact on what we understand about what’s going on around us... Here’s the good news: Kraus also firmly believes that our brains can be be trained to hear more clearly. She’s found that musicians and people who are bilingual are able to process sound better than the rest of us.WNYC's Only Human brings you Listen Up! - a project "to help us all become better listeners." [more inside]
"It isn’t easy to discover new podcasts. There are just SO many out there. Sometimes the best approach is to simply turn to a friend and say, 'Hey, what are you listening to these days?'" So, NPR has created earbud.fm, a "friendly guide to great podcasts."
Famed Shakespearean actor Sir Patrick Stewart recently appeared on NPR to perform a dramatic rendition of T. A. Swift's classic work, Blank Space.
Do you want to go on a karaoke adventure? One that you know you have never been on? Then, go to KARAOKE_EBOOKS! [more inside]
"Roger roll, Discovery." The sweet, sweet sounds of NASA mission control audio snippets, edited for your sampling and ringtone pleasure as MP3 and M4R downloads.
The International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA) is a free, online archive of primary-source dialect and accent recordings of the English language. Founded in 1997 at the University of Kansas, it includes hundreds of recordings of English speakers by natives of nearly 100 different countries. To find an example of an accent or dialect, use the Global Map, or select a continent or region at the Dialects and Accents page. [more inside]
What did he do in Mark Lawrenson's kitbag ? Ian McIntosh of the Guardian's on-hiatus "Football Weekly" tells the evocative tale of proto-70's legend Robin Friday, soccer's first rock star. (SLGrauniad audio - NFSW)
The Vocoder was invented at Bell Labs in 1939 to transmit voice data, rather than to make rock musicians sound like robots. It could also do much more interesting things to your voice.
Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you think, "Hey, I wish it sounded like a train station in here". Turns out this mysterious person* recorded a bunch of Japanese stations for your benefit! [more inside]
Scientists say they have reversed a bit of bird evolution in the lab and re-created a dinosaurlike snout in developing chickens.
The Edison Talking Doll is just what it sounds like: a doll, with a small phonograph in its body, mass-produced by Thomas Edison’s lab in the 1890s -- and it … shrieks. It’s like an unearthly Carol Kane screaming in a wind tunnel, trapped in the body of a lifeless totem. Listen at your own risk. Even more Edison Talking Doll recordings.
Yesterday, Jay-Z's streaming music service Tidal was launched. The press event featured over a dozen celebrity musicians as signing "owners" of the service (each reportedly received 3% equity in exchange for exclusive content), and, by some accounts, was a bit awkward and content-free. At $19.99, the subscription plan is double the cost of competing services like Spotify, and no "freemium" plan is offered. The justification is two-fold: 1. Artists should be compensated fairly for streaming; and 2. The service's high-fidelity, lossless streaming is far superior to the current standard (320 kbps AAC, as Spotify and Rdio currently provide.) You can take an online blind test between 320 kbps AAC and Tidal's lossless streaming, to see if you have the "equipment and ears" for lossless music. Is there really a noticeable difference, or is this snake oil? Will the artist-forward approach change the conversation and ingrained habits of streaming music listeners? Is Tidal a sort of streaming for the 1% rather than for struggling independent musicians? Is it a walled garden for artists at the expense of fans? Or is this all simply a great vertical move for Jay-Z's Roc Nation label? So many questions.
Gibber is a creative coding environment for audiovisual performance and composition. It contains features for audio synthesis and musical sequencing, 2d drawing, 3d scene construction and manipulation, and live-coding shaders.
It comes with a few demos (autoplaying audio)
To stop the current audio or animation, press Control-.
It comes with a few demos (autoplaying audio)
To stop the current audio or animation, press Control-.
De-cluttering your house with love: "Marie Kondo has built a huge following in her native Japan with her “KonMari” method of organizing and de-cluttering. Clients perform a sort of tidying-up festival: time set aside specifically to go through belongings. Each object is picked up and held, and the client needs to decide if it inspires joy. If it doesn’t, it needs to go." [more inside]
Former football player & star of the popular series of Old Spice commercials Terry Crews speaks on CBC's "Q" about rejecting caricatures of manhood (both video & audio-only available at the link) [more inside]
In the darkest hour of the AIDS epidemic, Ruth Coker Burks cared for hundreds of people whose families had abandoned them. Courage, love and the 30-year secret of one little graveyard in Hot Springs, Arkansas. [more inside]
Bad Memories is a supernatural horror radio play by Julian Simpson. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 07 January 2011, as an installment of the Friday Play. The play won a 2011 BBC Audio Drama Award in the category of Best Use of Sound in an Audio Drama. [more inside]
Sound of Cinema - British Sci-Fi from the BFI Days of Fear and Wonder - BBC Radio 3 talks to film composer Stephen Price about The Shape of Things to Come, Alien, Gravity, and other science fiction soundtracks.
Die Hard has been previously established as the most Christmasy film ever (shut up, Buzzfeed), now you can join in the festive fun with this specially recorded War Rocket Ajax Die Hard commentary track featuring Matt Fraction, Matt D Wilson and Chris Sims. Cue up the Vintage VHS tape (or modern alternative, scheisse dem fenster, and enjoy!
For over sixteen years, the webcomic Jerkcity (previously over twelve years ago, wow) has provided beloved characters and (largely worksafe, except for maybe #191 and #5014 although they lack nudity) vulgarity. But more recently, the Jerkcity experience has been expanded by collaborative fan efforts that have been integrated into the main site (along with other site updates like tags and dialogue transcripts): redrawing project Jerkcity HD (some comics NSFW) and audio dramatization project Jerkcity Hi-Fi (if you're using headphones, you might want to turn them down a little when you listen). Too many details on these and other fan-efforts (and how people can contribute) inside. [more inside]
Tabletop Audio - a new site with sixty ambient sound and music files for science fiction, horror, fantasy, modern and historical tabletop games. Plus a nifty queue manager and the option to download the tracks for play offline.
Pseudopod 401: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife Be careful what you wish for, and be careful of things with labels you can't read. [more inside]
The Distortion of Sound is a documentary about the decline of sound quality and how technology has changed the way we listen to music. It will open your ears and inspire you to reach for richer, more soul-stirring musical experiences.
Where is the Drama takes any song input recognized by Spotify and analyses it to find the 30 seconds or so of highest drama, defined as the portion of the song with the largest increase in loudness. [more inside]
"Imagine a job where about half of all the work is being done by people who are in training. That is, in fact, what happens in the world of biological and medical research." --- NPR reports [audio] on postdocs & the scientific workforce as part of a series on the funding crisis in biomedical research. The series also includes When Scientists Give Up [audio], and U.S. Science Suffering From Booms And Busts In Funding [audio].
Lydia Davis on Madame Bovary, Nabokov's Marginalia, and Translation: [YouTube] In this video from the Center for the Art of Translation, author and translator Lydia Davis discusses how she used Nabokov's margin notes from his edition of Madame Bovary to aid her own translation. She also discusses in-depth translation choices that she made. A full audio recording of this event can be hard on the Center's website.
The BBC has announced that it will be producing a radio dramatization of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's book, Good Omens. The radio drama will be broadcast as six episodes in December on BBC Radio 4, and will feature Mark Heap and Peter Serafinowicz in the lead roles.
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Microsoft Research, and Adobe Research have presented a technique for reconstructing an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. For example, the method can be used to extract intelligible speech from video of a bag of potato chips filmed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass. [more inside]