Category Archives: IT

TeachMeet 2011

This evening I’m heading up to TeachMeet 2011 chez Scottish Book Trust as one of the 7-minute presenters.

My theme is Literacy, Numeracy and Games in Instrumental Lessons. Seven minutes will allow a an average of 6 seconds per slide. So it will be a broad brush, hurried affair with the intention that people can download the ppt from here.

So here it is: Literacy-Numeracy-Games-in-Instrumental-Lessons

Community

I received a nice pingback on a recent post today on the Mind Over Music blog by Justin Yanowicz and Judy Crook. Having been in touch with Nina Krauss, the director of the work mentioned on my original post, and discovering that we will both be attending The Neurosciences and Music conference in June, today’s unexpected tie-in was further proof of the ease with which the internet can bring together those with a shared interest, connecting and amplifying learning.

What I liked in particular was their advice to delay cognitive ageing: “Speak several languages daily and keep playing your instrument.” Easier said than done or, as I like to say when pupils suggest insurmountability, “difficult, but not impossible.”

Gateshead Granny Cloud

I always felt that Martyn Lewis was unfairly pilloried in 1993 for opining that there should be more good news on the news. Is news meant to be a reflection of life, or merely a litany of human failing?

I caught an interesting story (in the car, as always) on Radio 4’s new technologies programme, Click On yesterday which typified, for me, the type of under-reported philanthropic instinct to which I suspect Lewis was referring. Chasing the idea today, I found the following video on YouTube which explains the story. You also get to see what must be a unique three-word sentence: Gateshead Granny Cloud:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/IXxYgpQhsrU?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The originator of the idea, Sugata Mitra, explains a little more fully here on TED:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/dk60sYrU2RU?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

 

Midi snags sorted

Congratulations to my colleague, Liz Woodsend, for identifying the snag which had prevented 4 out of 5 midi files of Bohemian Rhapsody from playing. The problem lay in having the character “%” in the file name e.g. Bohemian Rhapsody – Performance Speed – 10%. The names have now been changed and “%” has been replaced by “percent.”

If you’re wondering why the usual formula e.g. Rondo 80, Rondo 90 etc. was not used, it was simply becuase the metronome speed changes several times in this piece. That’ll teach me to be pedantic 🙂

The fixed files can be found here.

Tickets for the Showcase are selling fast. Make sure not to miss out by contacting the Queens Hall asap.

Last rehearsal this Friday (18th) in NBHS from 13:15 to 15:15

ngram

What better way to relax before a concert (Musselburgh Grammar New Year Concert – a neologism brought upon us by adverse weather at Christmas) than messing about with words. Driving home from school, I heard an article on Radio 4’s Open Book about Google’s Ngram software. Basically, this allows you to chart the popularity of a word between 1800 and now in books – approx 15 million of them.

It’s interesting to discover how words grow legs of their own, independent of their original coinage. For a bit of fun, try to predict (before clicking) which of the following words is the only one to enjoy a rise in popularity in last 200 years: heaven, hell, limbo, purgatory.

Can it be used to spot societal trends? Naomi Alderman pointed out, during the programme, the decline of “I must” compared to the rise of “I want.” Chart, though, the counter-intuitive progress of the word celebrity.

I wonder if one day an equivalent will appear for monitoring historical trends in music. What do you think the unit should be? Note? Chord? Voicing? And the method of input?

The use of the word music is interesting. It rose during WW2, peaking sharply around the late 1950s before falling sharply.

p.s. I suspect that neologism is not really a suitable term for a phrase, as opposed to a word. What should one use?

p.p.s I also realise that falling sharply is a musical contradiction – he said, voice rising flatly

Virtual Choir

Many thanks to Ewan McIntosh for flagging this up – Eric Whitacre‘s Virtual Choir singing Lux Aurumque (Light and Gold)  – a beautiful blend of music and technology:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/D7o7BrlbaDs?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


The idea and its history is explained here:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/zyLX2cke-Lw?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

I found the following translation of the text of Lux Aurumque here:

Lux

Calida gravisque

Pura velut aurum

Et canunt angeli

Molliter modo natum

Light

Warm and heavy

As pure gold

And the angels sing softly

To the newborn babe

The following related videos might also be of interest:

Singing instruction (although this is for another work – Sleep):[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/dWCTKnbqE6s?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


Recording instruction:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/IrQRVI8y5j8?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


Conducting track (instruction first and then real time conducting kicks in at 5:18)[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/uh1c2xWVWiA?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Score of Lux Aurumque (moves along with music)[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/aLBKyLT-j4w?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Instrumental Instruction

Most people studying an instrument seriously at some point look into the evolution of their instrument: physics; ergonomics; manufacturing; technological innovation, national differences etc. Strangely, I’ve never once considered the origins, adaptations and alternatives to an instrument that millions of us use on a daily basis – the QWERTY keyboard.
Stephen Fry looks into the history here (2 days left to listen).
Here is an example of one of many rival systems featured in the programme. Interestingly, the notion of rhythm comes up, when a user of the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard takes down some dictation.