Balloon orchestra caresses Birmingham with sleep music
Strikes Deepest Musical Note Ever Heard
The note strikes
an important chord with astronomers, who say it may help them understand
how the universe's largest structures, called galaxy clusters, evolve.
The sound waves appear to be heating gas in the Perseus galaxy cluster,
some 250 million light-years away, potentially solving a longstanding
mystery about why the gas surrounding this cluster and others does not
chill out as existing theory predicts. The gas is apparently dancing
excitedly to the eons-long drone of a deep B-flat.
were not surprised to find the supermassive black hole making a strong
sub-bass sound. Though these greatest known matter sinks are by nature
dark and invisible, they create bright and chaotic environments in which
many forms of radiation -- from radio waves to visible light to X-rays
-- have been recorded. These electromagnetic waves all travel at the
speed of light.
are similar, but they travel far more slowly and are more physical in
nature. Sound you hear, for example, can be produced by the visible
compression and expansion of a stereo speaker. The waves physically
compress the stuff through which they move, be it air, water, or hot
have shown that the riotous activity around black holes -- where gas
is accelerated to nearly light-speed -- produces many notes that are,
all together, much like music . Collectively, the cosmos produce, scientists
believe, a cacophonic symphony of inaudible tunes.
Musical production appears to be ubiquitous in Nature. Scientists often call it flicker noise, and it has also been detected in the X-ray outputs of magnetic fields within our solar system. Even Earth hums its own tune. Musical analogies are found in everything from seascapes to brainwaves.
Way out of
The 53 hours
of Chandra observations revealed a note that is more than a million
billion times deeper than what you can hear. "We have observed
the prodigious amounts of light and heat created by black holes,"
said Andrew Fabian of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge,
Perseus sound waves are much more than just an interesting form of black
hole acoustics," said Fabian's colleague Steve Allen. "These
sound waves may be the key in figuring out how galaxy clusters grow."
Scientists had previously observed large amounts of hot gas infusing
clusters. Given what's known, the gas should cool over time, however.
Cooler gas would create areas of lower pressure near the center of a
cluster, causing fringe gas to fall inward. In the process, trillions
of stars would form.
what astronomers see when they look at clusters, though. The Perseus
cluster is the brightest known in X-rays, making it a good target for
study. It has two large, bubble-shaped cavities that extend away from
a central black hole. The cavities are formed by jets of material
A special image-processing
technique was used to bring out subtle changes in brightness that revealed
the presence of ripples -- the sound waves.Fabian and Allen figure the
sound waves, observed spreading out from the cavities, heat the gas.
The amount of energy involved is staggering, equal to what would be
produced if 100 million stars exploded.
A single, long-sounding note is produced by a sound wave in which the waves are the same size and shape continuously. The newfound note has been sounding, the researchers say, for about 2.5 billion years.
|Police Nab Flute-Playing
Wed Sep 10, 9:29 AM ET
BERLIN (Reuters) - German police caught a man playing the flute with both hands as he sped through traffic at 80 miles per hour on a busy highway, police said Wednesday.
"He was leaning back in the seat and steering the car with his knees and feet," said Johann Bohnert, a spokesman for police in the town of Traunstein near the Austrian border. "He looked like he'd had practice." He now faces a fine of 50 euros ($56). The 52-year-old from Salzburg in Austria, birthplace of Mozart, the composer whose works include the opera "The Magic Flute," told police he was not actually blowing the instrument. "He said he was just practicing fingerings," said Bohnert.
Humid Recital Stirs Bangkok
THE RECITAL, last evening in the chamber music room of the Erawan Hotel by US Pianist Myron Kropp, the first appearance of Mr. Kropp in Bangkok, can only be described by this reviewer and those who witnessed Mr. Kropp's performance as one of the most interesting experiences in a very long time.
A hush fell over the room as Mr. Kropp appeared from the right of the stage, attired in black formal evening-wear with a small white poppy in his lapel. With sparse, sandy hair, a sallow complexion and a deceptively frail looking frame, the man who has repopularized Johann Sebastian Bach approached the Baldwin Concert Grand, bowed to the audience and placed himself upon the stool.
It might be appropriate to insert at this juncture that many pianists, including Mr. Kropp, prefer a bench, maintaining that on a screw-type stool they sometimes find themselves turning sideways during a particularly expressive strain. There was a slight delay, in fact, as Mr Kropp left the stage briefly, apparently in search of a bench, but returned when informed that there was none.
AS I HAVE mentioned on several other occasions, the Baldwin Concert Grand, while basically a fine instrument, needs constant attention, particularly in a climate such as Bangkok. This is even more true when the instrument is as old as the one provided in the chamber music room of the Erawan Hotel. In this humidity the felts which separate the white keys from the black tend to swell, causing an occasional key to stick, which apparently was the case last evening with the D in the second octave.
During the "raging storm" section of the D-Minor Toccata and Fugue, Mr. Kropp must be complimented for putting up with the awkward D. However, by the time the "storm" was past and he had gotten into the Prelude and Fugue in D Major, in which the second octave D plays a major role, Mr. Kropp's patience was wearing thin.
Some who attended the performance later questioned whether the awkward key justified some of the language which was heard coming from the stage during softer passages of the fugue. However, one member of the audience, who had sent his children out of the room by the midway point of the fugue, had a valid point when he commented over the music and extemporaneous remarks of Mr. Kropp that the workman who had greased the stool might have done better to use some of the grease on the second octave D. Indeed, Mr. Kropp's stool had more than enough grease and during one passage in which the music and lyrics were both particularly violent, Mr. Kropp was turned completely around. Whereas before his remarks had been aimed largely at the piano and were therefore somewhat muted, to his surprise and that of those in the chamber music room he found himself addressing himself directly to the audience.
BUT SUCH THINGS do happen, and the person who began to laugh deserves to be severely reprimanded for this undignified behavior. Unfortunately, laughter is contagious, and by the time it had subsided and the audience had regained its composure Mr. Kropp appeared somewhat shaken. Nevertheless, he swiveled himself back into position facing the piano and, leaving the D Major Fugue unfinished, commenced on the Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor.
Why the concert grand piano's G key in the third octave chose that particular time to begin sticking I hesitate to guess. However, it is certainly safe to say that Mr. Kropp himself did nothing to help matters when he began using his feet to kick the lower portion of the piano instead of operating the pedals as is generally done.
Possibly it was this jarring or the un-Bach-like hammering to which the sticking keyboard was being subjected. Something caused the right front leg of the piano to buckle slightly inward, leaving the entire instrument listing at approximately a 35-degree angle from that which is normal. A gasp went up from the audience, for if the piano had actually fallen several of Mr. Kropp's toes if not both his feet, would surely have been broken.
It was with a sigh of relief therefore, that the audience saw Mr. Kropp slowly rise from his stool and leave the stage. A few men in the back of the room began clapping and when Mr. Kropp reappeared a moment later it seemed he was responding to the ovation. Apparently, however, he had left to get a red- handled fire ax which was hung back stage in case of fire, for that was what was in his hand.
MY FIRST REACTION at seeing Mr. Kropp begin to chop at the left leg of the grand piano was that he was attempting to make it tilt at the same angle as the right leg and thereby correct the list. However, when the weakened legs finally collapsed altogether with a great crash and Mr. Kropp continued to chop, it became obvious to all that he had no intention of going on with the concert.
The ushers, who had heard the snapping of piano wires and splintering of sounding board from the dining room, came rushing in and, with the help of the hotel manager, two Indian watchmen and a passing police corporal, finally succeeded in disarming Mr. Kropp and dragging him off the stage.
and the fine art of torture
c) The Associated Press
BERLIN, GERMANY (AP) - Recent admissions by an ex-Nazi official living in Argentina have confirmed what some musicologists have suspected for years: that early twentieth century German composer Anton Webern and his colleagues devised the so-called "serial" technique of music to encrypt messages to Nazi spies living in the United States and Britain.
what can surely be considered the most brazen instance of Art
Imitating Espionage to date, avant garde composers of the Hitler years
working in conjunction with designers of the Nazi Enigma code were bamboozling
unsuspecting audiences with their atonal thunderings while
"This calls into question the entire Second Viennese School of music," announced minimalist composer John Adams from his home in the Adirondack Mountains. "Ever since I first encountered compositions by Arnold Schonberg I wondered what the hell anyone ever heard in it. Now I know."
Gunned down by an American soldier in occupied Berlin, 62 year old Anton Webern's death was until now considered a tragic loss to the musical world. At the time the U.S. Army reported that the killing was "a mistake", and that in stepping onto the street at night to smoke a cigarette Webern was violating a strict curfew rule.
It is now known that Webern was using music to shuttle Werner Heisenberg's discoveries in atomic energy to German spy Klaus Fuchs working on the Manhattan atom bomb project in New Mexico. Due to the secret nature of the project, which was still underway after the invasion of Berlin, Army officials at the time were unable to describe the true reason for Webern's murder.
Hans Scherbius, a Nazi party official who worked with Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, admitted at age eighty-seven that the Nazis secretly were behind the twelve-tone technique of composition, which was officially reviled to give it the outlaw status it needed to remain outside of the larger public purview.
"These pieces were nothing more than cipher for encoding messages," he chuckled during an interview on his balcony in Buenos Aires. "It was only because it was 'naughty' and difficult that elite audiences accepted it, even championed it."
Physicist Edward Teller, who kept a 9-foot Steinway piano in his apartment at the Los Alamos laboratory, was the unwitting deliverer of Heisenburg's data to Fuchs, who eagerly attended parties thrown by Teller, an enthusiastic booster of Webern's music.
Arnold Schonberg, the older musician who first devised the serial technique at the request of the Weimar government of Germany, composed in America to deliver bomb data stolen by Fuchs back to the Nazis, who worked feverishly to design their own atomic weapons.
As an example, Scherbius showed Associated Press reporters the score of Webern's Opus 30 "Variations for Orchestra" overlayed with a cardboard template. The notes formed a mathematical grid that deciphered into German a comparison between the neutron release cross-sections of uranium isotopes 235 and 238.
Schonberg responded with a collection of songs for soprano and woodwinds that encrypted the chemical makeup of the polonium-beryllium initiator at the core of the Trinity explosion.
And in Japan, Toru Takemitsu took time out from his own neo-romanticism to transmit data via music of his nation's progress with the atom.
"The most curious thing about it," says composer Philip Glass in New York City, "is that musicians continued to write twelve-tone music after the war, even though they had no idea why it was really invented. Indeed, there are guys who are churning out serialism to this day."
diatonic music, which is based on scales that have been agreed upon
by listeners throughout the world for all of history, twelve-tone
music treats each note of the chromatic scale with equal importance,
and contains a built-in mathematical refusal to form chords that are
pleasing by traditional standards. Known also as serialism, the
style has never been accepted outside of an elite cadre of musicians,
who believe it is the only fresh and valid direction for
"Even if this is really true," states conductor Pierre Boulez, a composer who continues to utilize serial techniques, "the music has been vindicated by music critics for decades now. I see no reason to suddenly invalidate an art form just because of some funny business at its inception."
pays for piece of silence
Monday, September 23, 2002 Posted: 12:21 PM EDT (1621 GMT)
LONDON, England -- A bizarre legal battle over a minute's silence in a recorded song has ended with a six-figure out-of-court settlement.
British composer Mike Batt found himself the subject of a plagiarism action for including the song, "A One Minute Silence," on an album for his classical rock band The Planets.
He was accused of copying it from a work by the late American composer John Cage, whose 1952 composition "4'33"" was totally silent.
On Monday, Batt settled the matter out of court by paying an undisclosed six-figure sum to the John Cage Trust.
Batt, who is best known in the UK for his links with the children's television characters The Wombles, told the Press Association: "This has been, albeit a gentlemanly dispute, a most serious matter and I am pleased that Cage's publishers have finally been persuaded that their case was, to say the least, optimistic.
"We are, however, making this gesture of a payment to the John Cage Trust in recognition of my own personal respect for John Cage and in recognition of his brave and sometimes outrageous approach to artistic experimentation in music."
Batt credited "A One Minute Silence" to "Batt/Cage."
Before the start of the court case, Batt had said: "Has the world gone mad? I'm prepared to do time rather than pay out. We are talking as much as £100,000 in copyright.
"Mine is a much better silent piece. I have been able to say in one minute what Cage could only say in four minutes and 33 seconds."
Batt gave a cheque to Nicholas Riddle, managing director of Cage's publishers Peters Edition, on the steps of the High Court, in London.
Riddle said: "We feel that honour has been settled.
"We had been prepared to make our point more strongly on behalf of Mr Cage's estate, because we do feel that the concept of a silent piece -- particularly as it was credited by Mr Batt as being co-written by "Cage" -- is a valuable artistic concept in which there is a copyright.
"We are nevertheless very pleased to have reached agreement with Mr Batt over this dispute, and we accept his donation in good spirit."
"A One Minute Silence" has now been released as part of a double A-side single.