Contest winners: Your song, but butter (er, better)

Last week's contest, in which we challenged you to tweak and improve the lyrics of your favorite songs, had a surprising but delightful side effect: a boatload of new mondegreens. I particularly liked one that reader Joel said belonged to his "buddy's high school girlfriend" -- yeah, Joel, we've all heard "my friend has a problem" before -- which substituted "God sent gravy" for "constant craving." Jordan alerted us to a lovely tune called "Alex the Seal," apparently written for the hundreds of confused Australian Go-Gos fans who called radio DJs to request it back in the '80s. Then there was "Big Ol' Jet Airliner." Note to Steve Miller -- next time you perform this in concert, someone in your audience will be singing:

  • "bingo Jed had a light on"
  • "big ol' jelly rhino"
  • "we're gonna jam at the lighthouse"
  • "pink hotel with the light on"
  • "big ol' Geralina"

But as much as we love these new lyrics ("big ol' jelly rhino" is definitely an improvement), we get the feeling they were unintentional and originally misheard. "Chant Macleod" thought so too, and suggested a different tweak for "Big Ol' Jet Airliner:"

How about changing "Big ol' jet airliner, don't carry me too far away" to something more topical, like: "Big ol' jet airliner, they took my carry-on bag away?"

I'd totally give this the prize if I weren't (a) traveling right now and (b) still smarting about the new carry-on regulations. It hits a little too close to home.

bacon.jpgThe winner, then, is Karen, who is right in tune with the fact that I'm writing this post over breakfast:

The Ramones' "I Wanna be Sedated" is way more interesting when you sing "I wanna piece of bacon" instead.

Joey and Dee Dee would have been proud. Karen, send us your mailing address, and we'll get your book on its way!

Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice

Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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