One of the things that evokes childhood memories and emotions for a lot of people – of my generation, I suppose – is the the Muppets. These creations of the genius Jim Henson has impacted the lives of countless people from all walks of life, from the four corners of the globe. Truth be told, my memories are rather hazy, but I cannot deny the warm, fuzzy, happy feeling that the puppets bring. [Read more…] about Listen to Muppets: The Green Album Before Launch
Do you love music with a passion but unfortunately music does not seem to love you back all that much? There are countless people who would give an arm and a leg to be able to play the guitar like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and the rest of the guitar legends. Others would love it dearly to be able to play the piano. Whatever instrument it is that you dream about, there just might be hope for you.
If this new technology succeeds, then maybe children will not have to be forced to go to piano lessons after school while their classmates played outside. (Yes, there is some regret in that statement, but I wish I had paid more attention to those lessons and actually practiced the piano in my spare time as a kids!)
Researchers in Japan have come up with a device that is supposed to teach people how to play a musical instrument by taking control of the hands. Yes, you read that right. Dubbed PossessedHand, the device works by taking over the user’s hands, and in the process, teach the person how to play a specific instrument. In spite of the name, the device does not involve spirits or possession, which I suppose many people might appreciate.
The project is a joint endeavor by the University of Tokyo, Japan, and Sony Computer Science Laboratories. With those two entities involved, I am already convinced. My brain is screaming, just give me the device already! I am daydreaming about playing the piano on a stage somewhere in Tuscany while Andrea Bocelli sings to my music…
Back to reality, though, the PossessedHand works by stimulating the muscles in the forearms with electricity. These muscles are the ones responsible for moving our fingers. So if you were to wear the device, your hand would look something like this.
If you think that is a little freaky, then get ready for this: your hands will move on their own, without your brain telling them to. That’s how the electric impulses work – they control your fingers so that you can play a musical instrument even if your brain doesn’t understand how to. Can you imagine just how freaky that would be? Parts of your body moving without you controlling them.
As of now, the device is meant to help budding musicians learn (faster?). It is also meant to help those in need of rehabilitation. All I can say is that freakish or not, this device would be a welcome thing to play with. I do have this feeling that no device can replace musical talent, though. Still, a girl can try, can’t she?
Check out PossessedHands in action.
Via New Scientist
It was bound to happen. Ever since I saw S1m0ne ((S1m0ne)), that Al Pacino movie about a computer-generated actress, way back in 2002 (or thereabouts), I was thinking why nobody had done it yet. The day has come, and there is really no surprise as to where – Japan.
Prior to the revelation of her real identity, fans believed Aimi Eguchi to be a “normal” 16-year-old from Saitama Prefecture (which is located North of Tokyo). However, Aimi Eguchi is nothing but a dream – a dream made possible by computers and inspired by the six other members of the girl band she belongs to – AKB 48. According to a report by the Telegraph, “Eguchi Aimi has been created using the hair and body of AKB48 band member Yuko Oshima, while her facial shape is taken from Takahashi Minami. She has Maeda Atsuko’s eyes, Watanabe Mayu’s eyebrows, Itano Tomomi’s nose and Shinoda Mariko’s mouth.” ((Source))
The idea of creating Aimi Eguchi came from Ezaki Glico, a confectionary company – obviously as a marketing ploy. I am not sure if the band’s management and the confectioner were meaning to disclose Eguchi’s real identity (they couldn’t possibly NOT have meant to, right?), but the management did go to great lengths to make people believe that the singer was real. Then again, they also left clues that, to the observant and to the real fan, would reveal that there was more than met the eye to the singer.
It’s not quite like S1m0ne, but the similarities are there. It just goes to show what technology can do! Here’s a video on the creation/making of Aimi Eguchi.
Time for a dose of Battlestar Galactica – well, sort of. We may not watch the entire BSG series every year, but enthusiasts will definitely get their hands on anything related to BSG on a regular basis. This month, what I stumbled upon is a jazzy rendition of Bear McCreary’s All Along the Watchtower.
I do not know a single person who has watched BSG who was not affected by that haunting piece by McCreary, and to be honest, I think that it’s still the best version. The Sac State Jazz Singers did a pretty good job, though, especially given the fact that there were no instruments involved. Oh, and they got a comment from McCreary himself!
Wow, guys… this is seriously awesome. Someone sent this link along, and I’m pretty much stunned listening to this. What a killer arrangement! I think I might like it better than mine. 🙂 Keep up the good work. So say we all…
That’s the best praise these guys can get. Without further ado, here is the video. Enjoy those BSG scenes in your head as you listen!
I have had a Last.fm account for a long time, but unfortunately have used it only very sparingly due to the fact that the service is not available for free where I am based. For those in the US and the UK, though, Last.fm is probably the best thing to have ever happened to music lovers. And, with the popularity of mobile devices, Last.fm’s mobile application has also caught the attention of those who just can’t get enough of their music.
Just like many other free web services, Last.fm has been able to get along without charging users a fee due to advertising. However, starting next week, things are going to change big time – at least for the mobile users. Instead of seeing ads and not paying anything, mobile users will have to pay 3GBP a month and enjoy ad-free service. The paid service will then allow users to listen to personalized radio stations but will still not offer the option of picking out individual songs.
While it is understandable that some people will react negatively to the move, the price is not that bad. It is already close to what Last.fm charges for its web service in other locations. More so, using Last.fm via the computer will remain free in the UK.
Last.fm’s official stance is that they believe that this is the right move for the company. They also say that they are NOT losing money, but that this is just the logical thing to do. Of course, the move will only bring in more revenue for the company, but I think the fee is reasonable, don’t you?
We all feel the blues sometimes. There is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed when you don’t feel 100 percent. Heck, apparently, even the supposedly indomitable Darth Vader felt the blues! I guess that with a life story like that of Darth Vader’s, one really will feel down every now and then.
What do you think the father of Luke Skywalker does when he is down? He plays the harmonica like you may never have heard before! (What? You didn’t know that Darth Vader can play the harmonica?) This is a perfect example of how music spans cultures. 😉
Here’s a funny video that can get you through the mid-week slump. It’s several years old, but it should still do the trick for those who live in 2011. 😉