August 2003, Issue 60
by Sonaris Consulting, Felix Bopp, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
[formerly Music for New Media Newsletter]
You can find the online version at: http://www.sonaris.info
The Millipede, Mystery of Musical Harmony
For the blind or deaf:
The Clerc Center catalog, The Sonic
Photon, Totally Absurd Inventions
The Future Store
Conferences & events
The Millipede: A future AFM-based data storage
IBM, Zurich Research Laboratory: "Will micro- and nanomechanical systems
be the building blocks of tomorrow's storage technologies? Our "Millipede"
concept suggests the feasibility of a high-density data storage system based
on micromechanical components borrowed from atomic force microscopy (AFM):
tiny depressions melted by an AFM tip into a polymer medium represent stored
data bits that can then be read by the same tip. This thermomechanical storage
technique is capable of achieving data densities in the hundreds of Gb/in²
range, well beyond the expected limits for magnetic recording (60–70 Gb/in²).
Whereas the readback rate of an individual probe is limited, high data rates
can be achieved through the use of massive parallelism: in our Millipede
system concept, the read/write head consists of an array of more than 1000
thermomechanical probes, fabricated on a single silicon chip using VLSI
microfabrication techniques, which operate simultaneously."
Solving the Mystery of Musical Harmony: Insights from a Study of Speech
For over two thousand years, musicians and scientists have puzzled over
why some combinations of musical tones played together sound more harmonious
than others. Now, Duke University Medical Center perception scientists David
Schwartz, Ph.D., Catherine Howe, M.D., and Dale Purves, M.D., have presented
evidence that variation in the relative harmoniousness, or "consonance,"
of different tone combinations arises from people's exposure to the acoustical
characteristics of speech sounds.
In their Journal of Neuroscience paper, the neurobiologists present a statistical
analysis of the patterns of frequency and amplitude in human speech sounds,
based on a collection of recorded utterances spoken by more than 500 people.
They found that the points at which sound energy is concentrated in the
speech spectrum predict the chromatic scale - the scale represented by the
keys on a piano keyboard. Moreover, the difference in the amount of sound
energy concentrated at these points predicts the relative consonance of
different chromatic scale tone combinations.
These results suggest that certain pairs of tones sound more harmonious
than others because they are physically similar to the patterns of sound
energy most familiar to human listeners from their exposure to speech, said
(Source: Dukemed News)
For the blind or deaf
The Clerc Center catalog
The Clerc Center catalog offers a comprehensive listing of educational
products and services available from the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education
Center. These products are valuable resources for educators and parents
as well as other professionals working with deaf and hard of hearing children.
They are also good sources of information for the general public.
The Sonic Pathfinder
The Sonic Pathfinder has evolved out of the work of the Blind Mobility
Research Unit at Nottingham University, England. It is the product of
a research program dedicated to achieving an understanding of mobility
and the information requirements of the independent blind traveler. The
Sonic Pathfinder embodies many of the findings of the Nottingham program;
the emphasis is on achieving a simple display. For instance, the device
does not attempt to provide the user with a sonic picture of the visual
world. Instead it is selective; it displays only that information, which
is of immediate practical interest to the moving pedestrian. The device
uses an auditory display but one which has been chosen so that it does
not mask the user's ability to hear, and make use of, environmental sounds.
The display comprises the notes of a musical scale, which make a familiar
tonal progression as the user approaches an object.
With Toy Symphony, Tod Machover and his team at the MIT Media Lab strive
to bridge the gap between professional musicians and children, as well
as between audience and performers. This three year project, combining
children, virtuosic performers like violinist Joshua Bell and conductor
Kent Nagano, composers and symphony orchestras around the world, is intended
to radically alter how children are introduced to music, serving to redefine
the relationship between professional musicians and young people.
Through the use of innovative technologies to create musical instruments
and compositional tools designed for an individual of any skill level,
as well as weeklong workshops culminating in an integrated performance
with children and professional musicians, Toy Symphony is designed as
an utterly inclusive experience, one that will infuse the orchestra with
youthful and enthusiastic collaborators, and the instruments, sounds,
and ideas of the 21st century.
"My goal," Machover said, "was to put together a suite of musical activities
that children can do with other children and with grown-ups and that could
end up in a concert."
Beatbugs are hand-held percussive instruments which allow the creation,
manipulation and sharing of rhythmic motives through a simple interface.
When multiple Beatbugs are connected in a network, players can share and
develop rhythmic patterns to form larger scale compositions. The players
themselves choose between manipulating existing motives and entering their
own material, in essence creating a dynamic and collaborative music that
is truly more than the sum of its parts.
Music Shapers are soft, squeezable instruments, which allow players
to mold, transform, and explore musical material and compositions. Using
capacitive sensing and conductive embroidery to measure the squeezing
gesture, Music Shapers allow children access to high-level musical parameters
such as contour, timbre, density and structure, rarely accessible through
traditional musical instruments or pedagogy except after many years of
study and mastery. The effect is that of "conducting" musical phrases
and forms in a very tactile, visceral and enjoyable way.
The Club of Amsterdam is an independent, international think tank,
which reflects our future: How we want to live, to communicate with each
other and what tools, cities we need, how we want to commute and how culture
or industries should develop. In brief: what we want our future to
The Club of Amsterdam provides a bridge between industry, education and
science. We organise events, seminars and workshops.
Photon was established in 2001
by Hidenori Watanave with the aim of creating interactive games with a
focus on non-violence. Photon consists of a team of media artists, computer
graphics creators, musicians and game planners.
RhythmEngine (REg) is a real time
spatial communication / session tool using sound and visual effects over
the Internet. Users navigate in a world of orbiting planets and avatars
that meet and interact. The way to establish a dialogue is to make 'physical'
contact with other fluctuating avatars. Upon contact, sounds and letters
are emitted. These 'sound-signs' remain as traces that reflect the relationship
between conversing entities. Photon emphasise that this type of environment
favours a non-simultaneous communication style, quite different from the
current trend of instant text messaging. More than 10,000 users per day
have been recorded.
Totally Absurd Inventions
12 Gauge Golf Club US Patent 4,176,537* Issued / 1979
"Golf game got you down? Now you
can have explosive drives every time with the 12 Gauge Golf Club! This
special woody features a barrel, muzzle and a trap door in the rear for
loading your explosive charge. The firing pin is aligned with the clubs
sweet spot for blasting your balls into oblivion (careful)."
FinalScratch is a bridge for the professional
and home DJ to enter and control the digital world. By using any standard
turntable/mixer setup, a DJ can now manipulate digital music the way they
have always done it...by hand and by vinyl. DJs can now mix both analog
records and digital files the way they have always been accustomed to
Just load any digital audio file onto your computer, then pick and choose
from your own playlist. Your computer becomes your record box. As well
for the professional, save and load any production, remix, or new edit
you have created and play it that very moment or take it to gig the same
night without the need to cut an acetate or make test pressings.
FinalScratch allows mixing of digital audio files, controlled with any
DJ turntable. The FS10K package includes three special vinyl records,
the Scratch Amp to connect the computer to your existing turntable/mixer
setup, and the Final Scratch software. An FS10K system, which supports
2 turntables, includes the Final Scratch software, the Scratch amp, and
2 FS vinyl records.
The FinalScratch software allows the user to save the audio files in various
playlists, called Record Boxes, as well to search and assign the audio
files to either turntable. The software provides a visual representation
of the music, needle position for each audio file, and remaining time
of each audio file.
The vinyl records included in the FinalScratch, which contain digital
information, are used to mix digital audio files like MP3, WAV, AIFF,
and audio CD. All mixing is done directly from the turntables, including
pitch shifting, cuing, spinning up and down, and even scratching. The
FinalScratch records can be used in combination with traditional analog
records when mixing your set.
Har-Bal is a mastering equalization system for Windows systems (95,98,ME,
NT, 2000 or XP) that corrects inconsistencies in mixed track sound files.
The software is composed of two parts: a spectrum analysis engine and
a high-resolution linear phase digital filter to perform the EQ'ing so
there is imperceptible degradation in quality (i.e. noise wise). Har-Bal
analyzes a recording, which gives a measure of the average and peak spectrum
content (displayed graphically) from which any user can judge the spectral
balance. Through a user interface, the software allows you to design a
matching digital filter. This differs from conventional approaches in
that you no longer need golden ears to judge the problem areas of a particular
The spectrum measurement provides you with an indication of any problems
in the recording. Frequencies felt in the body, i.e., low frequencies,
with high amplitudes and throbbing, pulsing envelopes can make listeners
sick to their stomach...so the expression goes. There definitely seems
to some connection with the corrected resonant frequencies of a song that
has been harmonically balanced as opposed to mastering.
Har-Bal states that you will no longer need to test your mastered CD in
cars, boom boxes, walkmans, etc. The software uses an 8192-point linear
phase FIR filter whose characteristics are designed to match and compensate
for the average spectrum as closely as possible.
The Future Store
METRO Group Future Store Initiative is a cooperation project between METRO
Group, SAP and Intel as well as other partner companies from the information
technology and consumer goods industries. Its objective is to promote
innovations in retailing on a national and international level. The initiative
shall be understood as a platform for technical and process-related developments
and innovations in retailing. Within the METRO Group Future Store Initiative,
technologies and technical systems are tested and further developed in
practice. In the long run the initiative is aimed at setting standards
for retailing that can be implemented on an international scale.
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© 2003 Sonaris Consulting, Felix Bopp. All rights reserved. Reproduction
in whole or in part in any form or medium without written permission
is prohibited. Sonaris Consulting cannot accept responsibility for the
accuracy of information supplied herein or for any opinion expressed.