Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

November 5, 2012

The oldies

Filed under: Administration,Music — Razib Khan @ 11:32 pm

One day my daughter will lament my antiquated taste in music. “Dad, how can you listen to that stuff?” Hey, we kept it real. Dial-up modems, no holo-touchscreens.

June 18, 2012

The return of the repressed: savage tunes

Filed under: Cultural Evolution,Culture,Music — Razib Khan @ 10:18 pm

Fascinating paper, Evolution of music by public choice, in PNAS.* The paper is open access, but ScienceNow has a serviceable summary. One somewhat obvious implication from this sort of research, which utilizes human preference to shape a cultural form, is that the topography of human artistic expression is non-arbitrary. In other words, aesthetics is not just historically contingent fiction, but draws upon a deep well of our sense of beauty and pleasure, whether for adaptive or non-adaptive reasons (i.e., culture as byproduct, later subject to functional selection).

But I’m struck by the last section:

The DarwinTunes system can, similarly, be extended to accommodate these additional selective forces by allowing individual consumers to select among variants (i.e., compose) before releasing them into the population or by allowing consumers to see each other’s preferences. The relative importance of selection at these different levels—producer, consumer, and consumer-group—in shaping the evolution of the world’s music is unknown and may vary among societies. Western societies have long had specialist guilds of composers and performers; however, in other cultures, participation is more widespread [e.g., early 20th century Andaman Islanders]. The ability to download, manipulate, and distribute music via social-networking sites has democratized the production of music ...

February 24, 2012

Friday Piano Solo

Filed under: Music — Sean Carroll @ 10:34 am

Keith Emerson has been doing some interesting work on wave mechanics, Fourier transforms, and temporal structure. Here are some of his findings.

Not exactly what you see at the Grammy’s these days. (Not that it was back in 1974, either.)


January 30, 2012

Mind = Blown

Filed under: Entertainment,Music — Sean Carroll @ 8:37 am

Apologies that real work (to the extent that what I do can be called “work”) has gotten in the way of substantive blogging. But I cannot resist sharing the amazing things I learned this weekend — amazing to me, anyway, although it’s possible I’m the only one here who wasn’t clued in.

Thing the first is that Morgan Freeman, many years before he went through the wormhole, was a regular on The Electric Company, along with performers like Rita Moreno and Bill Cosby. (Via Quantum Diaries, of all places.) This was public television’s show from the 70′s that was meant for kids who had moved on from Sesame Street — I was more of a Zoom kid myself, but I must have seen Electric Company episodes with Freeman playing hip dude Easy Reader.

Thing the second is that Easy Reader’s theme song, sung in the clip above, is a dead ringer for Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” Flip back and forth between playing them if you don’t believe me. So much so, I am told, that DJ’s in clubs will sometimes mix the two tunes together. Not at the clubs I go to, I guess.


September 20, 2011

40 hits in 40 years

Filed under: Culture,Music — Razib Khan @ 12:56 am

I’m not very interested in music compared to the average person. But I’m curious about changing tastes in music over time, because it’s part of our cultural fabric. Since I lack real “thick” knowledge in this domain, I started to think of crutches to allow me to get a slice of perception as a function of time. So what I did was look at all the top songs by year since 1970, and found them on YouTube. I created a “playlist” which I could listen to all at once.


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