Sound Sample Played on a Paleolithic Instrument Replica

A group of French researchers published their study of a conch shell from the Upper Paleolithic period based on an assumption that it was used as a musical instrument. The article includes a sound sample gained by blowing into it—the first such sample published.

The conch shell in question, a Charonia lampas—a handsome marine mollusk—was found already in 1931 at the cave of Marsoulas, which is a so-called decorated cave. The shell is dated to roughly 16,000 BCE. And, interestingly, the shell was not only modified—presumably to make it fit a human mouth more easily—but also decorated with traces of colors and engravings.

Science Advances Conch Shell Horn Sm

The color is mostly found in fingerprint-sized and -shaped red dots on the internal surface of the shell. They are similar to motifs present on the cave walls, including a bison covered with a layer of red dots (seen in the background of the image above).

Aren’t the dot decorations fascinating? Apparently, similar conch shells have been used around the world as musical instruments in later periods, with similar modifications. Also, the oldest known flutes discovered thus far come from earlier paleolithic periods, roughly 40,000-20,000 years BCE, so the the concept of horn or flute should have been known. It certainly would make sense, then, that this shell was a horn.

You can hear the sound by downloading an audio file attached to the article.

Fritz, C. et al. “First record of the sound produced by the oldest Upper Paleolithic seashell horn” in Science Advances, Vol 7, Issue 7 (10 February 2021). https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe9510

Image by G. Tosello via Science Advances

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.

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Mashup of Themes from Avengers and The Lord of the Rings

Perfection can be improved on occasion. Bearing witness is this inventive mashup of various themes from The Lord of the Rings by Howard Shore and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers by Alan Silvestri:

The Lord of The Rings X Avengers EPIC ORCHESTRAL MASHUP by Samuel Kim Music on YouTube

The mashup was arranged and orchestrated by Samuel Kim. I don’t have enough formal musical education to tell you why it works—both movie scores certainly are epic enough—I just know it does. 🙂 Kudos!

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.

Murderbot Mayhem Music: Fan Playlist for Network Effect

For the pure joy of having our sea container finally arrive with our moving goods, I’ve been re-reading all of Martha Wells’ Murderbot books in the past few weeks. That reminded me of a playlist Meghan Ball made to accompany the Murderbot novel Network Effect. I gave it a listen, and found it conveyed a very different idea of Murderbot than my impression.

So, I made my own playlist. It starts with a concert version of Darude’s “Sandstorm”, which I thought appropriate due to the reference of Murderbot visiting the Preservation planet for a cultural festival with concerts and operas in the beginning of the book.

  • Darude: “Sandstorm”, performed by Synthony and the Auckland Symphony Orchestra
  • Armin van Buuren: “Blah Blah Blah”
  • Paul Ruskay featuring Kokia: “Strike Suit Zero Main Theme”
  • Linkin Park: “Numb”
  • Darude’s “Sandstorm” and Rammstein’s “Du Hast” mashup by Monsterovich
  • Clint Mansell: “Lux Aeterna” (soundtrack from Requiem for a Dream, directed by Darren Aronofsky)

The “Blah Blah Blah” and “Numb” lyrics remind me of the doubts some humans (especially Thiago in this story) have about Murderbot, and Murderbot’s attitude towards those kinds of humans. The mashup of “Sandstorm” and “Du Hast” nicely marries action-paced music with the weirdness that comes with Murderbot finally finding targetControlSystem and the thread of targetContact contamination and the crystalline growth / alien hivemind taking over Murderbot. Ending the list with a piano piece brings some calm again.

Below are videos for your listening convenience.

Darude’s Sandstorm performed by Synthony and the Auckland Symphony Orchestra by Auckland Symphony Orchestra on YouTube

Armin van Buuren – Blah Blah Blah (Official Lyric Video) by Armin van Buuren on YouTube

Strike Suit Zero Main Theme via Paul Ruskay – Topic on YouTube

Linkin Park – Numb [Lyrics on screen] HD via LinkinParkLyrics100 on YouTube

Durude [sic] Haststorm (Du hast remix) by Monsterovich’s Music on YouTube

Requiem for a Dream – Lux Aeterna (Piano Version) by Patrik Pietschmann on YouTube

What would you add or subtract? Do you have your own playlist?

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.

A Cappella Computer Sound Effects Uncannily Close to the Original

MayTree is a Korean a cappella group quite popular in Asia. They broke into my consciousness with this amazing short video of Windows sound effects performed by human voices:

windows sound effect (acapella) by MayTree on YouTube

Found via Whatever.

LOL! I just love my fellow nerds—we have an unparalleled dedication and interest in details.

Check out the MayTree YouTube channel for more.

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.

Bardcore: Now in Classical Latin

Most of the bardcore versions I’ve seen are in plain modern English, some in ye olde faux medievale Englisshe, and some even in Old French. But so far there seems to be only one in Classical Latin: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

Smells Like Teen Spirit Cover In Classical Latin (75 BC to 3rd Century AD) Bardcore by the_miracle_aligner on YouTube

Oh, yeah! LOL!

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.

A Helsinki Location in The Last of Us Part II Cover Version

Game Music Collective is a Finland-based orchestra, band, and studio production company lead by cellist Lukas Stasevskij. As the name implies, they produce and perform game and other soundtracks.

Their latest project is a cover version of Ellie’s song “Through the Valley” from the PlayStation4 game The Last of Us Part II. The music video for the cover was filmed in Helsinki, Finland.

THE LAST OF US 2 OST – Through the Valley REAL LIFE ELLIE’S SONG [4K] Shawn James Guitar Cover(2020) by Game Music Collective on YouTube

The original song was written by Shawn James; the Game Music Collective version features Mokka Laitinen (vocals and guitar), Sujari Britt (cello), Leonardo Carrillo (oboe), and Eeti Nieminen (drums).

Pretty neat, isn’t it? (Although strictly speaking I would’ve been happier to see outdoor locations, too.) #FinlandNerd 🙂

Found via Helsingin uutiset (NB. Finnish only).

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.

New-to-Me Music Style: Bardcore

I recently learned of a new-to-me music style: bardcore.

It means making versions of modern pop / rock songs in the style of medieval ballads. And, oh boy, is there a rabbit hole to fall into!

Verily, behold “Sandstorm” by my fellow countryman Darude:

Darude – Sandstorm (Medieval version) by Marcus Aurelius on YouTube

Another neat bardcore version of a song from Finland, this one a trad: “Ievan polkka”.

Ievan Polkka (Medieval Cover) by Middle Ages on YouTube

Sadly, some are merely badly rendered synthesizer versions. When you do hit gold, though, it’s really good!

Below are other bardcore versions that tickled my fancy. (I saved the best for last, so keep scrolling!)

Gangnam Style (Medieval Style) [Bardcore] by Muckwick on YouTube

Macarena (Medieval Cover) by Middle Ages on YouTube

Nothig Else Matters [sic] – Medieval Style – Bardcore by Early Style on YouTube

Walk Like An Egyptian (Medieval Style) (Vocals!) by Mystic Zaru on YouTube

We Will Rock You [Bardcore] by Graywyck on YouTube

Surprisingly, also the theme for X-Files works quite well:

The X-Files (Medieval Cover) by Middle Ages on YouTube

Hildegard von Blingin’ is by far the best, most dedicated bardcorer (if that’s what they’re called) I’ve found so far.

Somebody That I Used To Know (Bardcore/Medieval Style Cover with Vocals) by Hildegard von Blingin’ on YouTube

What is Love (Medieval Style with Vocals – Original by Cornelius Link) by Hildegard von Blingin’ on YouTube

Crossposted from the Playfully Grownup Home blog.

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.

Listening to Sappho

Sappho, like many ancient poets, wrote her poems not to be read on the page but to be sung. We don’t know specifically what her poems originally sounded like when performed, but we know enough about the notes, rhythms, and structure of ancient music to make some reasonable guesses. Here’s a version of Sappho’s first poem (my translation here) performed on a reconstructed ancient lyre by artist Bettina Joy de Guzman.

Sappho fr. 1: to Aphrodite via Bettina Joy de Guzman

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.

Yoik at Eurovision

As winter takes hold around here, we turn our thoughts to the far north, to lands of snow, reindeer, and northern lights. We’ll leave you with a couple of examples of yoik, a distinctive Sámi musical tradition. Songs featuring yoik have twice made it to the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. The first was the Norwegian song “Sámiid ædnan” from 1980, performed by Sverre Kjelsberg and Mattis Hætta.

Sámiid ædnan – Norway 1980 – Eurovision songs with live orchestra via escLIVEmusic1

The next one was “Spirit in the Sky,” also from Norway, performed by KEiiNO in 2019.

KEiiNO – Spirit In The Sky – Norway – National Final Performance – Eurovision 2019 via Eurovision Song Contest

We’re vacationing for the rest of the year. See you in 2020. Happy New Year!

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.

Delightful Music: Fringe Theme

One of the most enjoyable things about Fringe is the theme song. Here is a full, 6-minute version:

Fringe Theme [FULL] via mrbrzoskwinka on YouTube

It’s composed by Michael Giacchino, who has an extensive music department background in genre tv, movies, and games (Jurassic franchise video games and movies, Alias, Zootopia, some rebooted Mission Impossible and Star Trek movies, Rogue One and both of the new Spider-Man MCU movies, for instance).

It’s rare to come across a speculative show theme that uses the piano so unapologetically, let alone a story of an FBI agent investigating weird crimes. I’m in no way an expert, but I seem to have noticed that piano has fallen out of fashion these days, so for me the Fringe theme is valuable on those grounds as well.

An occasional feature on music and sound-related notions.