Page 3.14

Synthetic Voices & Musical Notes

i-6195c85f63555b1b552519f6d90d6e79-musicbuzz.jpg

On Oscillator, Christina Agapakis lays out some of the history of synthetic biology. While in the last century this field has employed molecular and informational toolkits, in centuries past inventors relied on grosser modes of simulation. Such was the case with eighteenth century wetware, which aspired “to make machines look and feel more like living things—soft, flexible, moist.” One of the grails of early synthetic biology was the simulation of the human voice, and to this end we see such terrors as a fake face attached to a phonetic keyboard, which allowed “an operator to play a ‘human’ voice like a piano.” In the age of computation, such machines soon gave way to the IBM 7094 crooning “Daisy Bell.” Also of musical note, Dave Munger on Cognitive Daily explains bitonality and challenges us to hear the difference compared to monotonal samples. And on The Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer investigates how music affects neural activity, as we enjoy and anticipate patterns but revel at the surprising pitch. Finally, don’t miss a perfect excuse to listen to Hall & Oates on Greg Laden’s Blog, in a video where students learned to lip-sync (and walk) backwards so they could later reverse the footage.

Links below the fold.