I’ve come across a ton of music-related bananas recently. Here are the ripest of the bunch.
The composers as biscuits. Head on over to this thread by Oxford Lecturer Dr. Leah Broad where she matches up major historical composers with the cookie (biscuit) that best describes them. It was hard to choose a representative sample, but she was clearly on her game with Liszt, below. Oddly, she pairs Wagner with Oreos, “divisive, and not everyone’s taste” which just shows how poorly Oreos translate from over there to here.
Non-verbal communication across band members. (via @rainmaker1973) This recent research project from McMaster University published in Scientific Reports used motion capture during musical ensemble performances to see how the movements of each band member predicted the movements of each other.
Whether they were portraying joy or sadness, the musicians predicted each others’ movements to a greater extent when they played expressively, compared to when they played with no emotion.
“Our work shows we can measure communication of emotion between musicians by analyzing their movements in detail, and that achieving a common emotion expression as a group requires a lot of communication,” says Andrew Chang, the lead author on the study.
There’s so much worth exploring about all of the rich information that’s conveyed non-verbally when people do things together in person. That’s especially evident when you go from being squirreled away working remotely in a home office for a while to meeting the same people in person who you were working with all along. There’s so much more richness and texture you get that is more than just what you get via video calls.
In a less oblique way, this piece also brought to mind something I read in Frank Zappa’s autobiography years ago, about the tightness of his bands and all of the deliberate physical cues he built in to the way he controlled both the material and the subtext:
“Then there are cues used on stage like twirling my fingers as if I’m piddling with a Rasta braid on the right side of my head – that means: “Play reggae.” If I pretend to twirl braids on both sides of my head, it means: “Play ska” (as if it were double-time reggae). During any song, no matter what style it was learned in, on a whim I can turn around and do something like that, and the band will restyle the tune.
If I want something played ‘heavy metal,’ I put both hands near my crotch and do “Big Balls.” Each guy in the band understands what the norms and ‘expected mannerisms’ are for these different musical styles, and will instantly ‘translate’ a song into that musical ‘dialect.’“
She got a ton of offers and visitors over the next week, and this is the one that crossed my timeline on January 24th and took my breath away. Click in to watch and listen to the video:
Bonus musical bananas: A beautiful story from Martin Heavy Head about an ill tribal elder’s musical dreams and the process of creation. A novella inspired by the Beastie Boys’ song and video to Sabotage (hat tip to @theolane). And a medieval illustration of a chickenfish.