Connection between Science, Technology, and Music

The relationships and overlaps between information, science, technology, data, and music are very intriguing. Where did this combination (or, at least, some part of it: i.e., music + ) begin? When did the notion of “science” first enter the musical conversation in terms of an actual piece that listeners could hear? I’m still searching, but the findings so far are fascinating…

To answer these questions, some scholars might point to dates as early as 1436: in that year, Guillaume Dufay’s motet Nuper Rosarum Flores was written and first performed for the consecration of the Florence Cathedral, celebrating the completion of the church’s dome which had been ingeniously designed by one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance – Filippo Brunelleschi. Continue reading “Connection between Science, Technology, and Music”

Music and Science Connection

If we take a (very) broad, retrospective look at things, music has been interwoven with the sciences – nay information – since its inception. From Pythagorean and other tuning systems to the particular mechanics of individual instruments, to the emergence of audio technology – the world of music is essentially a world of information bathed in sound. Thanks to more recent studies in neuroscience, we’ve learned that music affects our consciousness, cognition, and other mental processes in ways that not only define how we listen but also (often) trigger our most primal and instinctive reactions and emotions.These phenomena are documented in studies, numerous books (such as Oliver Sacks’s Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain), and fascinating articles, such as this one featured in a recent New York Times ‘Sunday Review’ of The Opinion Pages. Yes, information is inherent in music, and that information tends to manifest itself in ultra-unique ways.

Composers have long been familiar with these connections (if only subconsciously), but only in the 20th century did they start outwardly exploring them (and their potential) in terms of musical material. More recently in the musical world, the data-driven sciences (e.g., probability and statistics, applied mathematics, analytics, psychology, economics, etc.) have taken hold, being given new form and new meaning through composition. In the last few decades, there seems to have been somewhat of a “surge” in composers and sound artists deriving entire pieces of music from (specific pieces of) information, information theory, and/or raw data sets. While some composers focus on theoretical or philosophical aspects, others are concerned with hard evidence. Fascinatingly, but not surprisingly, certain composers of late have become interested in the data itself (lists of facts, figures, percentages, rankings, and charts) and have tasked themselves with giving sound and musical shape to these seemingly sterile, systematic findings. Continue reading “Music and Science Connection”

What’s Future of Sibelius, the most popular music notation software

By internet standards, this is old news, but despite maintaining less than one degree of separation between myself and the internet during most waking hours, I hadn’t heard about the internet chatter over Sibelius until Frank, our membership officer, recently mentioned it to me. It seems Sibelius, arguably the world’s most popular music notation software is under threat.

In July of 2012 the social media sphere lit up when Avid, the parent company of Sibelius, shut down their UK headquarters and eliminated more than a dozen development jobs as part of a sweeping effort to streamline the company, which has been struggled both in profit and market share. This sparked a torrent of backlash as users panicked over what this meant for the future of the software. Many speculated that the apparent mass-exodus of development talent responsible for avid’s music software, including not only Sibelius, but also the digital audio workstation Pro Tools, signaled a warning death rattle. Continue reading “What’s Future of Sibelius, the most popular music notation software”

Must Know Facts From TED Talk: Between Music and Medicine

While watching Robert Gupta’s TED talk, “Between Music and Medicine”, I kept wanting to shout at the computer: Yes! Music is power! Lest my roommate think I’m crazy, I kept my comments silent.

But Gupta made some great points, with powerful scientific support. People, in varying stages of mental breakdown, can usually recall music before they can remember their family members. He cites the research of Dr. Schlaug, who has conditioned “new” speech centers in stroke victims. Gupta points out that music is communication and is deeper and stronger than words. He says, “…musicians have fundamentally different brains than non-musicians and how music, and listening to music, could just light up the entire brain…” which is quite fascinating and true. Continue reading “Must Know Facts From TED Talk: Between Music and Medicine”

5 Reasons Why Students Should Go to Conferences

In my opinion, if one is in library school, no matter their interests, whether they may study archives, public, law, health science, academic, or music librarianship, it is absolutely imperative to go to a conference. Any conference, really! I have had many library professionals tell me this for a number of reasons. I took it to heart, saved money to go, and hiked over to Naperville, IL to take part in the Midwest Chapter Conference of the Music Library Association. I suppose an archivist student should go to the Society of American Archivists and, if possible, every library student should try to make it to American Library Association at least once. But why not branch out? Our field is doing it, and we future music librarians should be doing it, too.

As a student of librarianship, I have many different interests in the field. With my music education background and my passion for music and libraries, marrying the two fields is a dream-come-true for me. My other interests include marketing for public libraries, multimedia, serials, children’s materials, and library instruction. Although conferences from a wide variety of organizations all pertain to their field, many of them branch out into other areas as well, not just different types of librarianship. The MLA Midwest Chapter meeting did just that, and I learned so much from the three days I spent attending the conference. Many people who attended, either as library leaders or just as an attendee were not necessarily musicians or pure music librarians. Some were academic or public librarians working with multimedia materials. Some were fine arts librarians covering a breadth of other disciplines such as art, dance, or photography. Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Students Should Go to Conferences”

Digital Music in Public Libraries

E-books in libraries are certainly attracting a lot of attention these days. The public seems both fascinated and horrified by the idea of “bookless libraries”, while the library profession itself grapples with the manifold challenges raised by e-books. Access versus ownership, digital rights management, and ever-changing file formats and technologies are key issues at library conferences around the world.

Meanwhile, a similar revolution is taking place on the library’s CD shelves. MP3 players and streaming audio are a constant presence in our daily lives, and digital formats are finding their way into the library’s music collection. Just as for e-books, the introduction of digital music to libraries presents certain challenges and opportunities.

For academic libraries, especially those focusing on classical, jazz, and traditional music, Naxos Music Library and Alexander Street Press provide excellent services. With popular music, however, things become more thorny. Continue reading “Digital Music in Public Libraries”