Whether Beethoven or beat boxers, musicians have come to rely on one tool to help them keep time.
The metronome was invented by a friend of Beethovenâ€™s, Johann Maelzel, in 1815. It is used in music to set a tempo, measured in Beats Per Minute, and traditionally has a range of 40 - 208 BPM, roughly the extremes of the human heart-rate. BPM correlates to the human body in other ways, too.
Mark Foley explores the relationship between math, meter, and music.
Music is almost always arranged in a repeating pattern of beats; the pattern, or â€śmeter,â€ť usually corresponds with a rhythm that is easy to dance to, so the meter of a song is usually a simple group of 2, 3, or 4 beats. There is, however, a history of composers making things more complicated. â€śMoney,â€ť from Pink Floydâ€™s Dark Side of the Moon, has a strange, lop-sided groove because it is in an undanceable seven-beat meter.
One way musicians create tension in a melody or chord progression is through use of a suspension.
Hereâ€™s a little music theory for you: the suspension. A suspension is a note that clashes with the harmony and needs to move to another note to resolve the tension. For instance, the fourth note above the root of a chord is dissonant, and likes to move to the third note, which is consonant. Hereâ€™s a 4-3 suspension on a piano; the tension in this C chord is resolved when the dissonant F moves to the consonant E:
Thereâ€™s been a noticeable trend away from using jingles in TV commercials. This really doesnâ€™t bother me too much; jingles are designed to lodge themselves into your brain, and an effective one can have the same effect as a toothache. Iâ€™m interested, though, in how jingles have been replaced.
Composer Carl Stalling created some of the most recognizable musical scores of the last century, the sounds that fueled many Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons.
[Music: Carl Stalling: â€śCoyote and Road Runnerâ€ť]
You may not know Carl Stallingâ€™s name but you do know his work.Â He was the composer who scored the music for Warner Brothersâ€™ Looney Tunes cartoons, the music that was the perfect accompaniment to sugar-cereal-fueled Saturday mornings, the music we associate with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, and their various escapades.
Minimalism was the last great revolution to happen in the world of art music. Young American composers began experimenting with using limited materials and processes in the 1960s, and the result was music that relied on repetition and very slow change over time.
Mark Foley looks at the history of the electric guitar.
Two thousand and twelve marks the 80th anniversary of the invention of the Electric Guitar, an event more important than the first moon landing or the isolation and identification of DNA. The very first electric guitar debuted in Wichita in 1932. Local musician Gage Brewer had vacationed in Los Angeles that summer and a friend happened to work for the Rickenbacker Company.
For the past decade, vinyl records have been making a comeback. Today, LPs are the fastest-growing medium for recorded music. One estimate of sales for last year is four millionâ€”impressive in an industry that has been shrinking since the early 1980s.
Cassettes may have largely gone the way of parachute pants but their spirit lives on.
It was my brotherâ€™s birthday the other day and I had no idea what he would want, until I remembered how much we both like music. So I made him a mix tape.
OK, so I didnâ€™t really use a cassette - I just messaged him a list of YouTube links on Facebook, mostly indie rock things that he might not have heard before - but the concept is the same: it was an ordered list of songs chosen by a person tailored for another person.