Which genre of music makes the best cheese? This study found out

Speaking to plants helps their flowers bloom, playing classical music to baby bumps helps them grow up to be intelligent, and apparently now playing music to cheese makes it taste nicer.

A new Swiss experiment has played 8 different genres of music to 8 wheels of ‘Muttenglück’ Emmental cheese and recorded the effects after 8 months (these researchers like the number 8 apparently). The ‘Cheese in Surround Sound – a culinary art experiment’ had some interesting results, with it being interesting there were results at all.

Invented by veterinarian Beat Wampfler in collaboration with students at the University of Arts Bern, the study exposed the award winning cheese to 8 different genres and sounds:

  1. No sound (for reference)
  2. Ambient: Yello – ‘Monolith’
  3. Classical: W.A. Mozart – ‘The Magic Flute’
  4. Techno: Vril – ‘UV’
  5. Rock: Led Zeppelin – ‘Stairway to Heaven’
  6. Medium frequency: 200 kHz
  7. High frequency: 1000 kHz
  8. Hip hop: A Tribe Called Quest – ‘We Got (the Jazz)’
  9. Low frequency: 25 kHz

They used micro-transmitters rather than speakers to conduct the energy of the music into the cheese. They exposed the cheese to their selected musical mates 24 hours a day, for 8 months.

After 8 months of letting the cheese mature alongside their stimuli, a taste test revealed the results. They discovered that the cheese exposed to hip-hop had the best results and found it “remarkably fruity, both in smell and taste, and significantly different from the other samples”.

Professor Michael Harenberg, the man behind the science in the experiment, commented: “We were overwhelmed. At first I thought it was a typical Swiss reaction because cheese plays such a big cultural role here in Emmental. But even journalists from South Africa approached us for interviews and information.”

Wampfler said: “I believe that humidity, temperature and nutrients are not the only elements that have an influence on the taste but sound, ultrasound or music can have physical effects too.”

Using the results from the study Wampfler now wants to continue the project, focusing entirely on hip-hop. “The idea is now to take 5 or 10 cheeses and put hip-hop on them and then compare,” he said.

Turn pictures into wavetables with this Ableton Live device

Have fun with your music and turn your images into wavetables that can be used in Ableton Live.

Want to turn your cat into a musical aid? Transform a beautiful landscape into the wavetable for one of your favourite synths? With Image2Wavetable for Ableton Live you can.

The tool works as simply as dragging and dropping your image into the tool then saving the wave. Then take that file and drop it onto Ableton Wavetable in Live 10.1 or higher.

Download Image2Wavetable now and transform your favourite things to look at into unique sounds to play with.

What Artist has Released the Most Albums Ever?

Its very hard to know definitively who has released the most albums of all time, but Gregory Isaacs has to be very close.

Gregory Isaacs was a Jamaican reggae artist. Isaacs released his first album in 1975 and then went on to release over 120 individual albums before his death in 2010. This number doesn’t include compilation. If you include compilations there are over 500 Gregory Isaac albums in the world.

RouteNote is very privileged to have some Gregory Isaac’s albums within our catalogue!

Watch these elephants’ incredible response to classical piano

Elephants World in Thailand is dedicated to conserving and protecting domestic elephants whilst educating visitors. Due to the rapid decrease in elephant population the people of Elephants World hope to give them the care and protection they need without keeping them trapped in claustrophobic captivity.

Paul Barton has made a series of videos where he plays classical pieces on a grand piano for the elephants. Their response is incredible as you can see the emotional response elicited by the sounds, some even begin to shed tears at the sound of the music. Watch some of the incredible videos below.

The lost history behind violins and their f-shaped holes

Instruments have gone through hundreds and sometimes thousands of years of refining to the form we recognise them in today. So why do guitars have a big circular hole in the centre whilst violins have fanciful f-shapes on either side of their strings?

byzantine lyra lira early string bowed instrument
The earliest known depiction of a lira. Carving found in a Byzantine ivory casket (900 – 1100 AD)

Over 1000 years ago the fiddle, or ‘fithele’, was spreading across Europe as string instruments became more complex and sought after. The instrument spead through Europe as a progression of the Byzantine ‘lira‘, a bowed string instrument favoured by the Byzantine Empire in the 9th century. The lira itself was developed from the Arab bowed instrument – the rebab. The fiddle found itself an established instrument in Western Europe by the 12th Century – appearing in carvings and illustrations from 900 A.D. onward.

In it’s earliest iterations the fiddle represented, in many ways, what we know the violin to look and sound like today but in a much more rudimentary form. More often than not the earliest iterations would have an ovular design and would commonly have a shorter neck than the violin we recognise today. The neck has been expanded over the past century to create a larger range of notes and the body, whilst retaining it’s oval look, comes in at the centre as most contemporary string instruments do.

As body of the fiddle evolved from it’s lira-based beginnings so did the geometry of it’s sound hole. Early liras featured two holes on either side of the strings but they were often circular. As the understanding of air resonance in string instruments became more sophisticated the design of fiddles underwent gradual changes through the eras helping the small but highly influential instrument to grow in capability.

lira da braccio instrument violin evolution renaissance stringed bow f shape holes
Painting by Bartolomeo Montagna of a person playing a lira da braccio (circa 1500 AD)

The fiddle underwent a big evolution in the 15th and 16th centuries and the lira de braccio was created, becoming a prominent instrument of the Renaissance. Developed in Italy, the lira de braccio was used by poet-musicians to accompany their narrative poetry. The lira de braccio refined the sound of the medieval fiddle and largely resembles the modern violin, laying the groundwork for the instrument we now know and love. It was highly influential in advancing musical culture.

The Renaissance instrument had a wide flat fingerboard which allowed for the playing of chords, using strongly curved bows. But another feature that set it apart from it’s predecessors were the s-shaped holes which eventually evolved into the f-shape that we recognise today. It was a slow development that had been taking place since the 12th century when the fiddle was uniquely crafted with half moon and c-shapes rather than the round hole typical of bodied string instruments.

Recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), published in the Royal Society of Publishing (RSP), found that air flow at the perimeter of sound holes conducts acoustics at a much greater rate. The further into the hole the sound gets the less it permeates, meaning that the size of the hole doesn’t necessarily impact the volume of sound whilst the edges of a sound hole allow for much more acoustic resonance.

There was “an increasing trend in radiated air resonance power having occurred over the classical Cremonese period from roughly 1550 (the Late Renaissance) to 1750 (the Late Baroque Period)”. The research team at MIT found that during this period the f-shaped holes grew increasingly longer. As the f-holes became longer and more refined so did their radiated acoustic power.

lira da braccio instrument violin evolution renaissance stringed bow f shape holes
Example of how the shape of an instrument’s sound hole effects it’s air-flow. Red and yellow represent positions with a higher air flow.

Whilst it makes acoustic sense, the study suggests that the shape may not have been by design but in part an accident. Writing for MIT News, Jennifer Chu says: “The researchers worked the measurements from hundreds of Cremonese-era violins into an evolutionary model, and found that any change in design could reasonably be explained by natural mutation – or, in this case, craftsmanship error.”

Essentially; the elongation of the sound holes may have just been defects in each instrument as craftsmen tried to replicate earlier designs that they found preferable. The researchers found that trying to carve the sound hole using a knife in thin wood there was an error margin of roughly 2%, which through patterns could have led to longer sound holes with each instrument.

Acoustician and part of the research team at MIT, Nicholas Makris says: “We found that if you try to replicate a sound hole exactly from the one you made, you’ll always have a little error… People had to be listening, and had to be picking things that were more efficient, and were making good selection of what instrument to replicate. Whether they understood, ‘Oh, we need to make [the sound hole] more slender,’ we can’t say. But they definitely knew what was a better instrument to replicate.

The size of the instrument played a part in it’s design as well, being a one handed instrument made to be possible to play whilst standing. Chu adds: “an elongated sound hole takes up little space on the violin, while still producing a full sound – a design that the researchers found to be more power-efficient than the rounder sound holes of the violin’s ancestors, such as medieval fiddles, lyres, and rebecs.”

In a time before electric amplification acoustic resonance was incredibly important. Particularly as music grew in popularity and cultural significance, the ability to play to larger audiences was sought after. Makris and his MIT colleagues found that f-holes have “twice the sonic power… of the circular holes of the fithele” (early fiddle).

The study was undertaken with analysis of 470 instruments made between 1560 and 1750 to examine the advancement and differences in sound holes that led to the famed f-hole shape we synonymise with violins today. You can read the full study here: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspa.2014.0905

Toto’s Africa to play on an endless loop in the desert forever

Toto’s beloved track Africa, even more beloved in recent years thanks to being heavily memed, is getting paid tribute to with a non-stop loop ‘for all eternity’ in the Namib desert. 

Namibian-German artist Max Siedentopf has set up what is both an art installation and also a very unique tribute to Toto with six speakers in the Namib coastal desert that will play the band’s hit song Africa on an endless loop. The installation has been planted in an undisclosed spot where, running off of solar batteries, the speakers can “keep Toto going going for all eternity”.

The speakers and solitary, blue MP3 player – which only features Toto’s Africa in it’s library – sit atop white rectangular blocks amongst an endless sea of desert surrounding it. It looks incredibly peaceful and slightly lonely, with the sound of Toto’s Africa a constant in the expanse of emptiness that is the dunes of the Namib desert.

The song itself is a funny shout-out to Africa that Jeff Porcaro, Toto drummer and the song’s co-writer, described as “a white boy trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past”. The artist, Siedentopf says the song is worthy of tribute in the continent it’s based on because it’s “a song that is understood and liked all over the world”.

He goes on to say: “If no one hates it, no one will love it. I think having the worst sound installation is more interesting than just a mediocre installation.” Whilst the location of the installation has been left undefined Siedentopf has put a map on his website with a red circle over the 1,200 mile desert to narrow it down – making it purposefully vague. He writes: “I’m not too worried that someone will put it in jeopardy. Finding it might take some time.”

You can find out more on Siedentopf’s website: maxsiedentopf.com/toto-forever

Mongolian throat singing gets metal as f**k in this killer track

Can we all agree that Mongolian throat singing (also called Tuvan throat singing, Khoomei, Hooliin Chor) is super cool? Good, because it is. The Hu are a Mongoloian Hunnu rock band that combines the ancient and beautiful art of throat singing with fat, heavy riffs for something like you’ve never heard before and it’s WICKED.

What is a cow’s favourite instrument? This video reveals it

It sounds like the start of a dad joke but it’s actually an age old question; what do cows like to listen to? Well according Farmer Derek Kingenberg they love it when he plays the trombone.
Do they have a favourite song too? Well if this video is anything to go by then Lorde’s Royals is a hit as far as the farmyard is concerned.