Sunday, March 18, 2007

Would you like to play a game?

Yesterday I went to an ice-skating birthday party, and got to observe a whole slew of kids born after 1990 being subjected to music of the 70s and 80s. We parents were having a good time, and hey, we're paying the rental fees. So the post title is from that stroll through the zeitgeist of the 80s. But the post is about something very now, very happening, baby!

Scientists at Columbia University (Michael Mandel and Dan Ellis) have designed an online experiment on music cognition. Big deal, you say, we've seen that before. But here is the kicker: the experiment is set up as a game! Listen to a clip of music, and come up with tags describing that music. Earn points for originality and conformity. You get two points for coming up with a tag first, which other listeners also use. Earn one point for being the second person to use the same tag. Zero points for being a hanger-on. Play as often as you like, for as long as you like. And you can earn points while not playing, if others agree with your mind-blowing tags. Due to Columbia's rules on human subject testing, you can only participate if you are at least 18 years old. But the registration process is minimal, and the game is somewhat fun. I'm up to 5 points right now, well below the leader who is two orders of magnitude above me (damn you Paul!) So log on and copy my tags. Don't tell me you can't read my mind from there! You already know my music personality.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After Erick Grossman’s Violin concerto


Consuelo Hernández (USA / Colombian poet)

A lonely violin, alone in the night
glowing in the lamp light
two universes counterpoised
as if up were down, left were right
glowing wood, woven of stellar string
sidereal miniature.

Two suns revolve, exploding stars
to be reborn as footsteps, dewdrops of light.

Darkness of the sightless
night of the silenced
trembling hands
of earth, your strings
a sullen march of retreat
from the bow, gentle notes
slowpaced sadness
martial frenzy, fierce chords
amorous pursuits in allegretto
folly of the followers, an andante.

Youth, aged, love, oblivion
children of the same silenced violin
universe emptied in childbirth
the instrument does not create its own notes
the bow remains motionless without sound
moved by hands feeling only the bow which touches it.

And I saw in the moment of its anger
a different birth from that of peace
the ancient sadness which follows me
the folly of the sexes on the sand
the echo that we have always dreamed
but hasn't yet sounded.

Nobody has planted shelters in my body
nor marvelous fleeting phantoms in my breast
nor calcareous soil chocking in my throat
the opacity of my universe-light

The violins sound on earth
I hear a song and see them throwing dice
in the middle of the sea
life and flotsam floating
on mats of palm
closed off circumstances
with crazed faces of men and women
on this screen.

From afar, someone moves my strings
and in that way, directs my days.
I am leaving myself, it is part of the melody.
I am visited by strange energies
and the notes continue to feel
limy in my rose mouth, far from reason
wise journeying a fallen leaf
searching for its own horizon.

Red fire, brutal blast
the bow steps into my secret zone
my life becomes a show case,
a boutique of a thousand trinkets
the eyes only touch stars
the head becomes a well of hips.

Winter arrives, my strings are tuned
my pegs writhe, I tremble
I emit some notes
unable to create the chord
which may come from the rain forest
from the mountains peaks
from the stone of the turkey vultures
from its enormous eggs
from its nests, which cross my coastline through the mountains
my mother brings the firewood
to light the hearth...

Suddenly the violin sounds again
the smoke curls of boats taking off
through the winged sea
the flavor of moist shadows
silver grey edge
frenetic pounding of my doubts
my mind shrinks
and my heart rebounds
my breasts grow strong.

I am the hollow of a violin
chords which tremble
when the bow touches them
my chords will snap one day
I go forth the great healing void.

And if I make no sound?
all the notes are
daughters of silence.
If I remain a violin
forever needful of the hand which strokes me
my notes will be only seven...
Better yet I am going to explode
I'll give birth to silence emptiness
my own permanent nostalgia saudade.

I don't want to be a violin
I am going to mingle with stars
without an ember remaining of my being
I am going to flow into the ocean
without being water
I will become earth
without being still
I will break through
these walls of wood which close me in
these chords which imprison me
I abandon this bow which works me over
the invisible hands which put me into motion
I transform myself into hand
into bow
into air
into silence
hotel of sounds.

The hour has arrived
first the sobbing... a good signal
until giving birth to
the scream forged in my depths
it irrigates my eyes
makes my teeth chatter
it moves the changing lines of my mouth
I vomit up my innards
thus totally fulfilling
my vocation of not being
and I am that nothingness.