What Are the Acoustic Wonders of the World?

Accoustic engi­neer Trevor Cox was inspired to embark on his life’s grand­est quest when he climbed down to the bot­tom of a sewer.

An expert who designs treat­ments to opti­mize the acoustics of con­cert halls and lec­ture rooms, Cox was par­tic­i­pat­ing in a TV inter­view on the acoustics of sew­ers when he was struck by some­thing. “I heard some­thing inter­est­ing down there, a sound spri­al­ing around the sewer,” he says. “It kind of took me by sur­prise, and it got me think­ing: what other remark­able sounds are out there?“
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-are-acoustic-wonders-world-180950043/#PmjTt2rp1rezf0B9.99

Why do we listen to our favourite music over and over again? Because repeated sounds work magic in our brains

What is music? There’s no end to the parade of philoso­phers who have won­dered about this, but most of us feel con­fi­dent say­ing: ‘I know it when I hear it.’ Still, judg­ments of musi­cal­ity are noto­ri­ously mal­leable. That new club tune, obnox­ious at first, might become toe-tappingly like­able after a few hear­ings. Put the most music-apathetic indi­vid­ual in a house­hold where some­one is rehears­ing for a con­tem­po­rary music recital and they will leave whistling Ligeti. The sim­ple act of rep­e­ti­tion can serve as a quasi-magical agent of musi­cal­i­sa­tion. Instead of ask­ing: ‘What is music?’ we might have an eas­ier time ask­ing: ‘What do we hear as music?’ And a remark­ably large part of the answer appears to be: ‘I know it when I hear it again.’”

For the full story, please see aeon.

Burying the blues: Grave marker project brings overdue recognition

Blues gui­tarist Tommy Bankhead rubbed shoul­ders with some of the genre’s roy­alty, from Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James to Albert King and Sonny Boy Williamson. But vis­i­tors to the over­grown St. Louis ceme­tery where Bankhead was buried more than a decade ago would never know his musi­cal legacy. Or his name.  Read more at ctvnews.ca

Choir With Elite Pedigree Promotes Red Songs, and Red Values

Beneath the shim­mer­ing lights of a bar in west­ern Bei­jing, a group of roughly two dozen retirees fell still under the baton of the 64-year-old choir con­duc­tor Li Xiao­jin. With a flick of his wrist, Mr. Li sent the Bei­jing Found­ing Fig­ures Group into a sonorous ren­di­tion of “Long­ing for the Red Army,” a well-known Com­mu­nist rev­o­lu­tion­ary num­ber.  Read more at the New York Times

Songwriters Pushing Choral Music That Accentuates the Maine Accent

Those who are both­ered by the idea that young Main­ers may never have been exposed to a regional Maine accent might be cheered to hear that a pair of cen­tral Maine song­writ­ers hope to buck the trend by inject­ing a strong dose of Maine-isms into the cho­rus rooms of schools across the state. Read more at the Port­land Press-Herald.

New York Philharmonic: Digital Archives

The goal of the New York Philharmonic’s dig­i­tal archives is to make avail­able all of the organization’s his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments. Because cre­at­ing such a com­pre­hen­sive resource is no small task—the orches­tra began oper­a­tions in 1842—the phil­har­monic opted to start with a por­tion of its materials—specifically those from what the Web site labels the Inter­na­tional Era (span­ning 1942 to 1970). Dur­ing this time the orches­tra took its place as a pre­mier ensem­ble in the world, just as the United States became a world power. It might be more apt to call this the Leonard Bern­stein era since the chronol­ogy neatly book­ends his debut with the group (in 1942) and his retire­ment as music direc­tor (in 1969). Of the more than 24,000 doc­u­ments cur­rently avail­able, almost 4,000 are asso­ci­ated with Bern­stein; this is con­sid­er­ably more than the 1,177 linked with Bernstein’s col­league Andre Koste­lan­etz, the con­duc­tor of the philharmonic’s pop­u­lar con­certs. For schol­ars who study Bern­stein, then, this site pro­vides an invalu­able look at pri­mary mate­ri­als, although those who are more gen­er­ally inter­ested in the orchestra’s his­tory will also find it worthwhile.”

For the full story, please see the Jour­nal of Amer­i­can His­tory.

As The Year Closes, A Concert Hall Remains Empty

Three hun­dred sixty-five. That’s the num­ber of days the Min­nesota Orches­tra will have gone with­out play­ing in its con­cert hall in 2013. The orches­tra became the unwit­ting poster child for labor strife in the clas­si­cal music world — and, to some extent, an emblem of the prob­lems fac­ing non-profit arts insti­tu­tions across the coun­try.  Learn more at npr.org