The Science of Bass Drops!

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Edit April 3, 2014: Hey everyone! Hope no one minded our little April Fool’s joke. That said, we’d love to actually make this video. Who wants to do some research? (We do.)

In this video, we explore the science behind bass drops. Why are bass drops so popular in electronic music? Are we responding to pitch the same way cognitively as we do to dynamics? Join us as we explore just why bass drops are so popular. Is it the tension and release? Does it cognitively have to do with the way the pitch drops? Are we, in fact, evolutionarily inclined to love the bass? Or, at least, to respond to it.This video is best listened to on Beats headphones or the phattest sub you own. Please don’t use your Macbook speakers.

 

A shout out to producer Evan Scott for providing the music for this week’s episode. https://soundcloud.com/evanscottproducer

NAMM, Loudness Wars, and Grammys (but not in the way you think): Weekly Roundup for January 19-26th

We’re trying something new here at Science of Music: from now on we’ll give the low-down on all things that are at once science-y, tech-y, and music-y in the news once a week. Watch this space for more.

NAMM 2014

We’re keeping our eye on the “best of” lists and products coming out of NAMM since we can’t actually be there…which we’re still getting over for more reason than one. (I mean, just for the weather alone, right?) xlr8r has a take that covers the good, bad, and weird while Line 6 has created an unholy guitar-amp-bluetooth-speaker-iOS-integration combo.

But what we really, really want is this right here. Korg has announced a build-it-yourself kit that will let you build your own MS-20 synth. This analog, monophonic synth comes pre-disassembled (which is a little sad, because some of the fun is tearing something apart) giving you the chance to put it together. For the ultimate consumer-tinkering-friendly experience, no soldering or knowledge of schematics are required. The MS-20 kit is expected to be out in March for around 1,400 USD.

Breaking Genre

British Singer Katherine Jenkins says her record sales game is too strong to ignore. She claims her “crossover” pop-classical style of singing has become so popular it’s “becoming its own thing.” In fact, the Telegraph is referring to it as the “crossover” genre. To this, we say: what defines a musical genre, anyway?

A 1981 study by Franco Fabbri defines genre as “a set of musical events (real or possible) whose course is governed by a definite set of socially accepted rules.”

More recently, companies like Echo Nest (which supplies Spotify with data) are mining for these rules with—according to their website—over 35,000 songs and over 1 trillion data points. With user data refining such an enormous machine will the algorithm become the ultimate genre codifier?

A quick borrowing of my sister’s Spotify account showed a biography that called Jenkins “classical” but that her related artists contained singers like Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli, and Charlotte Church, all of whom are known for their pop take on classical singing. Then again, it also had serious classical musician Howard Blake and non-classical songwriter Emmy Rossum.

Crossover as a genre? Maybe.

Peace in Our Time

Hugh Robjohns of Sound on Sound covers the protracted end of the “Loudness Wars” in the magazine’s February issue. Mastering engineer Bob Katz declared an end to the wars at AES in October, but how will we keep the peace?

In the noise of modern society, everyone is clamoring to get heard. In particular, recorded audio has been trying to “out-loud” itself for some time now, which has led to the loss of dynamic range, over-compression, and just bad sound in general. But with new technology that will put a smarter limit on audio, either broadcasted or streamed, the war may be over. The rub? Overly loud mixes will probably end up sounding “feebler” over the new system. So shut up or sound bad.

Dead Musicians’ Society

The Providence Journal ran a commentary piece about the importance of music education in schools while an upstate New York music teacher receives the first-ever Grammy in Music Education.

Of note in the PJ commentary is the idea that musicianship is not a 21st century skill. Of course not: it’s a 23rd century skill. Who else is going to teach our cyborg overlords how to play the violin? They’re going to want to be proper gentlemen, after all.

Got a tip? Send us a message at scienceofmusicnyu@gmail.com , or , or post it to our Facebook page.

Introduction to Resistors

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In a continuation of our Introduction to Electronic Components series we present (drum roll please) resistors!

Resistors…resist. It’s what they do. Well, they don’t resist everything. They won’t help you resist the temptations of the dark side, for example. But these little guys are useful components when it comes to regulating the amount of electricity with which you want to work.

Interested in more? Check out our full playlist here.

A New Project: DIY Electric Slide Guitar

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Our compatriots never cease to amaze us.

Student and guitar pro Adam November guests on this episode of the Science of Music to show us all his homemade electric slide guitar! This DIY project was made for an acoustics class at NYU’s music technology program. Watch as Adam shows off his creation and explains how you can make your own guitar from materials easily purchased at your local hardware store.

The Science of Music Gets Its Own YouTube Channel!

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Hello Blogosphere!

These are your friendly music-to-science emissaries from NYU MARL announcing a new YouTube channel specifically for the Science of Music!

In this video we outline our ongoing mission is to bridge the world of music to engineering, science, and technology. And we also give you a preview for what’s to come, so tune in for a weekly demonstration or explanation from New York University’s Music and Audio Research Laboratory!

DIY: Graphite and Paper Mixer

Once you grasp the concepts behind your gear, you can translate that knowledge into making your own, albiet much simpler, versions of that equipment. This video is a short how-to guide and demonstration for using graphite pencils, paper and wires to make a mixer.  With less than $5 worth of materials, you too can make a basic mixer!

Disclaimer: some pencils were harmed in the making of this video.

Credits:

  • Directed by Langdon Crawford
  • Edited by Sarah Streit
  • Theme Music by Tate Gregor
  • Audio loops collected by Nick Dooley
  • Produced with support from The National Science Foundation

Can Speakers be Used as Microphones?

A door once opened can be stepped through in either direction…

Okay, we promise that we’re serious people when we’re not making Doctor Who references (but we are never not making Doctor Who references so…paradox?). This video shows how a speaker, once removed from its enclosure, can be used as either a speaker or a microphone, thus exhibiting the beauty of transduction! Specifically, this is a good example of how electromagnetic transduction can work in both directions (electrical to acoustic transduction and acoustic to electrical).

Credits:

  • Directed by: Langdon Crawford
  • Voice:  Tyler Mayo
  • Editing Caitlin Gambill