Popularity

The Mexicali Brass were apparently created by Crown Records, a subsidiary of the Bihari Brothers’ Modern Records, in order to cash in on the popularity of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass and The Baja Marimba Band during the 1960s.

Teddy Phillips, the band’s leader, graduated from Oak Park River High School, where he had learned to play the sax in school band. After graduation, he toured with many bands and also worked in radio studio bands for both NBC and CBS

He formed his own band in 1944, the Teddy Phillips Orchestra, which played at local Chicago clubs until 1947, when he played the Aragon Ballroom. The band was a fixture there and at the Trianon and Willowbrook Ballrooms became the best known band in town. Curiously, his popularity came just as the Big Bands era was closing.

By the 1960s, he had transformed the band into the Mexicali Brass, a Las Vegas style Mariachi Band. During the 1970s, he continued performing with the band, and toured the USA briefly.

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Vibratory

Cymatic therapy is a scientifically unsupported alternative medicine technique using acoustic waves which was developed in the 1960s by Sir Peter Guy Manners. It is based on the assumption that human cells, organs, and tissues have each a natural resonant frequency which changes when perturbed by illness.

Starting in the sixth century BC, Greek philosopher Pythagoras was the first to use music to heal a person’s body and emotions. During the eighth century, German scientist Ernst Chladni proved that sound does affect matter. Chlandi, the father of acoustics showed that as he drew a bow across the edge of a metal plate covered with sand, the sand moved and formed geometric patterns.

Cymatic therapists apply different audible frequencies and combinations of sound waves which they claim entrain malfunctioning components back to their healthy vibratory state and promote natural healing. The operational principle of cymatic therapy is out of step with mainstream scientific thought, and it is viewed with skepticism by most medical doctors. Relying on this type of treatment alone, and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care, may have serious health consequences.

Cymatic therapy is operationally, historically, and philosophically distinct from the many medical uses of ultrasound and from the more mainstream practice of music therapy.

Threshold

Comfort noise is artificial background noise used in radio and wireless communications to fill the silence in a transmission resulting from voice activity detection or from the audio clarity of modern digital lines.

Some modern telephone systems such as wireless and VoIP use voice activity detection, a form of squelching where low volume levels are ignored by the transmitting device. In digital audio transmissions, this saves bandwidth of the communications channel by transmitting nothing when the source volume is under a certain threshold, leaving only louder sounds such as a speaker’s voice to be sent. However, improvements in background noise reduction technologies can occasionally result in the complete removal of all noise.

The result of receiving total silence, especially for a prolonged period, has a number of unwanted effects on the listener, including the following:

  • The listener may believe that the transmission has been lost, and therefore hang up prematurely.
  • The speech may sound choppy and difficult to understand.
  • The sudden change in sound level can be jarring to the listener.

To counteract these effects, comfort noise is added, usually on the receiving end in wireless or VoIP systems, to fill in the silent portions of transmissions with artificial noise. The noise generated is at a low but audible volume level, and can vary based on the average volume level of received signals to minimize jarring transitions.

In modern VoIP products, users may control whether they want comfort noise enabled or disabled. During the siege of Leningrad in 1942, the beat of a metronome was used as comfort noise on the Leningrad radio network, indicating that the network was still functioning.

Return

A Shepard tone, named after Roger Shepard, is a sound consisting of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves. When played with the base pitch of the tone moving upwards or downwards, it is referred to as the Shepard scale. This creates the auditory illusion of a tone that continually ascends or descends in pitch, yet which ultimately seems to get no higher or lower.

The acoustical illusion can be constructed by creating a series of overlapping ascending or descending scales. Similar to the Penrose stairs optical illusion, as in M. C. Escher’s lithograph Ascending and Descending, or a barber’s pole.

As an example, consider a brass trio consisting of a trumpet, a horn, and a tuba. They all start to play a repeating C scale in their respective ranges, i.e. they all start playing Cs, but their notes are all in different octaves. When they reach the G of the scale, the trumpet drops down an octave, but the horn and tuba continue climbing. They’re all still playing the same pitch class, but at different octaves. When they reach the B, the horn similarly drops down an octave, but the trumpet and tuba continue to climb, and when they get to what would be the second D of the scale, the tuba drops down to repeat the last seven notes of the scale. So no instrument ever exceeds an octave range, and essentially keeps playing the exact same seven notes over and over again. But because two of the instruments are always “covering” the one that drops down an octave, it seems that the scale never stops rising.

Jean-Claude Risset subsequently created a version of the scale where the steps between each tone are continuous, and it is appropriately called the continuous Risset scale or Shepard–Risset glissando. When done correctly, the tone appears to rise continuously in pitch, yet return to its starting note. Risset has also created a similar effect with rhythm in which tempo seems to increase or decrease endlessly.

Although it is difficult to recreate the illusion with acoustic instruments, James Tenney, who worked with Roger Shepard at Bell Labs in the early 1960s, created a piece utilizing this effect, For Ann. The piece, in which up to twelve closely but not quite consistently spaced computer-generated sine waves rise steadily from an A pitched below audibility to an A above, fading in, and back out, of audible volume, was then scored for twelve string players. The effect of the electronic work consists both of the Shepard scale, seamless endlessly rising glissandos, and of a shimmering caused by the highest perceivable frequency and the inability to focus on the multitude of rising tones. Tenney has also proposed that the piece be revised and realized so that all entrances are timed in such a way that the ratio between successive pitches is the golden ratio, which would make each lower first-order combination tone of each successive pair coincide with subsequently spaced, lower, tones.

An independently discovered version of the Shepard tone appears at the beginning and end of the 1976 album A Day At The Races by the band Queen. The piece consists of a number of electric-guitar parts following each other up a scale in harmony, with the notes at the top of the scale fading out as new ones fade in at the bottom. Echoes, a 23-minute song by Pink Floyd, concludes with a rising Shepard tone. The Shepard tone is also featured in the fading piano outro to A Last Straw, from Robert Wyatt’s 1974 opus Rock Bottom.

Cacophony

Exploding head syndrome is a condition that causes the sufferer to occasionally experience a tremendously loud noise as originating from within his or her own head, usually described as the sound of an explosion, roar, waves crashing against rocks, loud voices or screams or a ringing noise.

This noise usually occurs within an hour or two of falling asleep, but is not the result of a dream and can happen while awake as well. Perceived as extremely loud, the sound is usually not accompanied by pain. Attacks appear to change in number over time, with several attacks occurring in a space of days or weeks followed by months of remission.

Sufferers often feel a sense of fear and anxiety after an attack, accompanied by elevated heart rate. Attacks are also often accompanied by perceived flashes of light (when perceived on their own, known as a “visual sleep start”) or difficulty in breathing. It is not thought to be dangerous, although it is sometimes distressing to experience.

The cause of the exploding head syndrome is not known, though some physicians have reported a correlation with stress or extreme fatigue. The condition may develop at any time during life and women suffer from it slightly more often than men. Attacks can be one-time events, or can recur.

The mechanism is also not known, though possibilities have been suggested. One is that it may be the result of a sudden movement of a middle ear component or of the eustachian tube. Another is that it may be the result of a form of minor seizure in the temporal lobe where the nerve cells for hearing are located. Electroencephalograms recorded during actual attacks show unusual activity only in some sufferers, and have ruled out epileptic seizures as a cause.

This syndrome can also cause the sufferer to feel an extreme rush or adrenaline kick going through his or her head, sometimes multiple times. In most cases, it occurs when they are in a state between asleep and awake. Some sufferers report familiarisation with the subsequent fear or panic element such that they no longer consciously experience it.

Symptoms may be resolved spontaneously over time. It may be helpful to reassure the patient that this symptom is harmless. Clomipramine has been used in three patients, who experienced immediate relief from this condition.

Utterance

Acoustic phonetics is a subfield of phonetics which deals with acoustic aspects of speech sounds. It investigates properties such as the mean squared amplitude of a waveform, its duration, its fundamental frequency or other properties of its frequency spectrum, and to abstract linguistic concepts like phrases and utterances.

The study of acoustic phonetics was greatly enhanced in the late 19th century by the invention of the Edison phonograph. The phonograph allowed the speech signal to be recorded and then later processed and analyzed. By replaying the same speech signal from the phonograph several times, filtering it each time with a different filter, a spectrogram or graphic image of the speech recording could be created.

A series of papers by Ludimar Hermann investigated the spectral properties of vowels and consonants using the Edison phonograph, and it was in these papers that the term formant was first introduced. Hermann also played back vowel recordings made with the Edison phonograph at different speeds in an effort to distinguish between varying theories of vowel production.

Further advances in acoustic phonetics were made possible by the development of the telephone industry. During World War II, work at the Bell Telephone Laboratories greatly facilitated the systematic study of the spectral properties of periodic and aperiodic speech sounds, vocal tract resonances and vowel formants, voice quality and prosody.

On a theoretical level, acoustic phonetics advanced greatly when it became clear that speech acoustics could be modeled in a way analogous to electrical circuits. During the early 1900s, Lord Rayleigh was among the first to recognize that the new electric theory could be used in acoustics, but it was not until 1941 that the circuit model was effectively used. In 1952, the book Preliminaries to Speech Analysis was published, tying acoustic phonetics and phonological theory together. This was followed in 1960 by Gunnar Fant’s Acoustic Theory of Speech Production, which has remained the major theoretical foundation for speech acoustic research in both the academy and industry.

Accompaniment

The gudastviri is a droneless, double chantered, horn belled bagpipe played in the Caucasus region between Europe and Asia. The word comes from the words guda (bag) and stviri (whistling). In some regions, the instrument is called the chiboni, stviri, or tulumi.

It is made up of two parts, the first being a whole sheep or goat skin, or a sewed, rectangular leather bag (“guda”). The second is a yoked double chant pipe (“stviri”), terminating in a single horn bell, which makes the gudastviri a member of the hornpipe class of bagpipes.

The gudastviri is used for vocal accompaniment. A majority of recitative songs were performed with its accompaniment, in the region of Racha. The gudastviri player’s repertoire consists of historical, epic, satirical, comic, and lyrical verses, which are performed as one part songs. These songs are recitatives and it is the text, not the melody, that is the most important part of the performance.

Traditionally, only men play this instrument, and Rachian gudastviri players were strolling musicians, who were welcomed as guests at every family party or wedding. It was a profession that served as the main source of the player’s income. Gudastviri players often took part in the Georgian improvisation competition known as berikaoba, where they had to invent a witty epic, lyrical or comical poem accompanied with gudastviri music.

In the region of eastern Javakheti, gudastviri pipes are made of very young branches of a dog rose. One should possess special knowledge to design it. Jewelers are hired to make ornaments on the instrument. The gudastviri itself is nomally designed by the player. The player’s tastes and preferences determine where and how the ornaments should be attached.

52_gudastviri

Monochord

A tromba marina or marine trumpet is a triangular bowed string instrument used in medieval and Renaissance Europe that was highly popular in the 15th century in England and survived into the 18th century. The tromba marina consists of a body and neck in the shape of a truncated cone resting on a triangular base. It is usually four to seven feet long and is a monochord, although some versions have sympathetically vibrating strings. It is played without stopping the string, but playing natural harmonics by lightly touching the string with the thumb at nodal points. Its name comes from its trumpetlike sound due to the unusual construction of the bridge.

During the time of Michael Praetorius in 1618, the length of the Trummscheit was 7′ 3″ and the three sides at the base measured 7″, tapering to 2″ at the neck. There was at first only one string, generally a D cello string. The heavy bow, similar to that of the cello, is used between the highest positions of the left hand at the nodal points and the nut of the head. In one catalogued example the frets are lettered A, D, F, A, D, F, G, A, B, C, D.

The body of the tromba marina is generally either three slats of wood joined in an elongated pyramid shape with a pegbox at the apex, or a body of three to six ribs, a frontal soundboard, and a distinguishable neck. In most cases the bottom end of the instrument is open. Some historical models use sound holes. The single string is tuned to the D three octaves below middle C. It attaches at the soundboard and passes over one foot of the bridge, leaving the other foot to vibrate freely on a plate of ivory or glass set into the soundboard creating a brassy buzz.

From its curiously irregular shape, the bridge is also known as the shoe. It is thick and high at the one side on which rests the string, and low and narrow at the other which is left loose so that it vibrates against the belly with every movement of the bow. A string called a guidon is tied around the playing string below the bridge and runs up to the pegbox where it is wrapped around a peg. The guidon adjusts the balance of the bridge by pulling the playing string.

The measurements of the tromba marina varied considerably, as did also the shape of the body and the number of strings. An octave string, half the length of the melody string, and even two more, respectively the twelfth and the double octave, not resting on the bridge but acting as sympathetic strings, were sometimes added to improve the timbre by strengthening the pure harmonic tones without increasing the blare due to the action of the bridge.

In Germany, at the time when the tromba marina was extensively used in the churches, nuns often substituted the tromba marina because women were not allowed to play trumpets. In France, the Grande Ecurie du Roi comprised five tromba marina among the band in 1662, when the charge was mentioned for the first time in the accounts. The instrument fell into disuse during the first half of the 18th century, and was only to be seen in the hands of itinerant and street musicians. In modern times, the group Corvus Corax still regularly plays the tromba marina.

Migration

The Golden-crowned Sparrow is a medium sized sparrow, slightly larger than the closely related White-crowned Sparrow. It has a distinct gold patch on its head, flanked by two dark black stripes. When not breeding, its plumage is more variable, ranging from a small, dull gold patch and no black, to near breeding season plumage.

The song is a three note whistle, descending in pitch. It is very distinctive and often described as “Oh, dear me”, each note an interval lower in pitch than the preceding. However, birds in the mountains of British Columbia have been reported to have trill on the third note, rather than a clear whistle as in other populations. These songs are heard mainly in the breeding season, but also in the wintering grounds just after fall migration as well as just before they take off for spring migration.

Alaskan gold miners along the trails called this bird Weary Willie, because of its call which sounded like “I’m so weary”. The song resembles the popular tune known as “Volare” (Italian for the infinitive form of the verb “to fly”) written by  Domenico Modugno in 1957. Sergio Franchi sang the song, with modified lyrics, as the television spokesman for the Plymouth Volare in the 1970s.

The entire population of Golden-crowned Sparrows migrates within North America. They leave the breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada late in the fall, most arriving on the wintering grounds throughout northwestern California, Oregon and Washington from mid-September through October. Birds begin to return to the breeding grounds in April or May.

These sparrows makes a habit out of digging in the ground for grubs, insects, and seeds. This is because it has extremely large feet and claws. They use a digging technique of jumping backward off of both feet at the same time, which stirs up the soil, leaf litter, or grass. They then move forward to see what they have uncovered. Sometimes, when they jump backward, you can see the seeds popping up from out of the grass, where they were hidden before.

Golden-crowned Sparrow Nests are usually dug into the ground or placed in a depression so their rims are even with the ground. Each bird has its own feeding spot at a bird feeder. Even when there are no other birds around, it uses its spot exclusively. A group of Golden-crowned Sparrows are collectively known as a “reign” of sparrows.

The Golden-crowned Sparrow was considered a pest early in the 20th Century, because flocks would feed on vegetables and flowers in gardens and cultivated fields. Its actual impact was not as great as was originally thought, and it is no longer considered a pest. Its population has grown in the past 30 years, and the Golden-crowned Sparrow is now a more common Washington winter resident than it was 30-50 years ago. Its far northern breeding grounds are well protected, with many of them located in national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges.

Unisonance

The Pacific Tree Frog is a very common species of chorus frog, with a range from the West Coast of the United States to British Columbia in Canada. Living anywhere from sea level up to over 11,000 feet. They live in many types of habitats and reproduce in aquatic settings.

They can reach up to about 5 cm long from snout to urostyle. The males are often smaller than the females and have a dark patch of skin on their throat. This dark patch is the vocal sac which stretches out when a male is calling. These frogs can have highly variable color on their bodies. They can be anywhere from gray, brown, tan or bright green and can even change between them. They are usually a pale or white color on their bellies. They have many variations of markings on their back and sides that are usually dark and spotty. The one identifiable mark is a dark stripe that goes over the eye from the nose to the shoulder. Their skin is covered in small bumps. They have long legs compared to their bodies and they tend to be slender. Their toes are long and are only very slightly webbed. On the end of each toe, there is a round sticky pad that is used for climbing and sticking to surfaces.

The evolutionary history of these frogs is a very interesting one that has recently been changed to better suit tree frogs. Amphibians themselves are thought to have descended from the lobe finned bony fishes. These fishes had an ossified skeleton and emerged from the water as they developed limb girdles and terrestrial characteristics such as lungs and a neck. It is hard to figure out an exact frog lineage because of the lack of fossil record. The habitat in which these animals lived was moist and decay was quick, which was not helpful in preserving biological clues.

The genus appeared just after the dinosaurs went extinct. They originated in South America and expanded to the north into Mexico and eventually into North America. There was then a rise in sea level and the connection between the northern and southern populations was gone. They have been separate ever since and have become genetically distinct from one another.

One of the most interesting features of these frogs is their ability to change color from brown to green. Previously, it was thought that there were two different fixed colors that an adult tree frog could be. Now it has been found that some of them are actually able to change between the two. They can also change from lighter to darker. These color changing morphs are triggered not by color change in their environment, but a change in background brightness. This type of environmental change would be caused by seasonal fluctuation, and has been shown to be a very useful cryptic survival feature for these frogs.

Pacific tree frogs are most common on the pacific coast of California. They are also found eastward to Montana and Nevada. They love water, but they can also be found upland from ponds, streams, lakes. Their habitat consists of a wide variety of climate and vegetation from sea level to high altitudes. The tree frog makes its home in riparian habitat as well as woodlands, grassland, chaparral, pasture land, and urban areas including back yard ponds.

The Pacific Tree Frog begins mating in early winter to early spring. Since these frogs are so widespread geographically, it is thought that their breeding season is determined by local conditions. When it is time, the males migrate to the water. They all call at the same time very loudly. This lures the females to the water and they mate. The females lay their eggs in clumps of 10-90 and usually put them on and under vegetation and leaf litter in the pond. Females usually lay their eggs in shallow, calm water that has little action around it. If they are not eaten, embryos will hatch into tadpoles within one to three weeks.

The tadpoles feed on periphyton, filamentous algae, diatoms and pollen in and on the surface of the water. They feed using a beak like structure that helps scrape vegetation off surfaces and suction. Metamorphosis follows about two to two and a half months later. Prior to transformation, they stop feeding for a short time while their mouth is transformed from herbivorous to carnivorous. Then the tiny baby frogs emerge from the pond measuring as little as one centimetre. They hunt using their sticky pads to climb on vegetation and other surfaces. Much of their diet consists of spiders, beetles, flies, ants and other insects. They mature very quickly and are likely able to mate in the next season after metamorphosis. Predators include snakes, raccoons, herons, egrets, and other small mammals and reptiles. The tree frog is mostly nocturnal, but can be spotted during the day. It spends a lot of time hiding under rotten logs, rocks, long grasses and leaf litter.

These frogs are the most common frogs on the west coast of North America. Although the Pacific Tree Frog remains abundant and most populations of tree frogs appear healthy, there is some evidence of declines. The cause has not been fully understood, but pollution, the introduction of exotic species and habitat loss are very high on the list of factors. Some ways to stop amphibian declines are by respecting and protecting amphibian habitat as well as supporting laws and legislation that help to do this. Another important way is to help limit pollutants that will end up in amphibian habitat, usually from agriculture and urban run off, by boycotting companies who are heavy pesticide users and by not pouring chemicals or pollutants down storm drains or in amphibian habitat.