Links We Like: Redefining Computers, the Mozart Effect, and Vuvuzelas

Hi everyone! Here is another installment of the Links We Like series. This week’s stories all deal with the breaking of conventions and the exploration of alternate concepts in the classical music world. We hope you enjoy them, and happy early Fourth of July!

Composer or Imposter – Is Creativity Solely a Human Trait? When 6-year old composer “Emily Howell” released the album From Darkness, Light , the world was introduced to the newest, youngest voice of classical music. The concern? Emily is no ordinary composer, but a computer program created by David Cope, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Emily is a part of EMI, or Experiments in Music Intelligence, and is a program that relies both on musical and verbal communication. Its musical “creativity” is dictated by Cope, and it continues to learn what is or is not to his liking. While Emily is far from being a mainstream compositional force, the question becomes whether or not “her” example will serve as a paradigm for the future of classical music…click here to read more on EMI.

"Emily Howell" creator David Cope (photo courtesy of Catherine Karnow)

Classical Music – No Longer an Excuse to Put Down the Textbooks: We’ve all heard of the “Mozart Effect” in our musical training at one point or another, or the theory that listening to classical music enhances the ability to learn (especially with babies). Yet a new study in Intelligence journal has set out to disprove the belief that had parents plopping down their infants in front of classical music recordings, such as Baby Mozart, for hours a week. The study highlights how the enhanced acuity from listening to classical music is extremely short-lived, only about 10 to 15 minutes. To read more about the Mozart Effect and the new study, click here.

The Vuvuzela – Exploring its Voice Outside the Soccer Arena: The 2010 FIFA World Cup has stirred up an immense amount of excitement worldwide. While the games themselvers are highly intriguing, anyone can recognize the loud, constant drone of the South African vuvuzelas. Many affiliate the device as nothing more than a “noisemaker,” yet three brass players of the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra have set out to prove otherwise. Their adaptation of Brahms and Ravel for the vuvuzela places the horn in an entirely different light. Click here to watch their humorous demonstration.