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Musical Cats

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Cats and music go together like Romeo and Juliet, rest and relaxation, or green eggs and ham. No one really knows why, but there they are.

1. Nora, the Piano-playing Cat

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Nora was adopted by a piano teacher with twin pianos in her home. As the students played, Nora figured out how to make the piano work on her own. Her first video on YouTube catapulted her into stardom. More videos followed, and then a DVD. Nora's talent inspired Lithuanian composer Mindaugas Piečaitis to write a number featuring the cat as soloist. The CATcerto, as it is called, premiered in in Klaipėda, Lithuania on June 5th, 2009, performed by the in Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra with Nora appearing via videotape.You can see the performance here.

2. Katzenklavier

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The idea of making music with cats goes back to the Middle Ages at least. A Katzenklavier is a cat piano. Not a piano for cats to play, but a piano full of cats! Cats were to be arranged in order of the tone of their natural voice. Their tails would be secured, and when their particular note was called for, a spike would strike a cat's tail, causing it to cry out. This odd instrument was designed by Athanasius Kircher around 1650. The idea is also attributed to German doctor Johann Christian Reil for the purpose of focusing his psychiatric patients attention. As fascinating as the katzenklavier is, the instrument was a concept only, and never put into use.

3. Drei Klavierstücke

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Cory Arcangel's latest project is a bit hard to understand, so I won't even try to explain it myself.

Recently I took a few months of my free time and decided to recreate Arnold Schoenberg's 1909 op. 11 Drei Klavierstücke (aka Three Piano Pieces) by editing together videos of cats playing pianos downloaded from Youtube. Schoenberg's Op11 is often considered the first piece of "atonal" music, or music to completely break from traditional western harmony which means it's not written in a "key".

He has three videos of Schoenberg's music as performed by cats at his website.

4. Animated Cats

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As funny as cats are, is it any wonder so many are conscripted to perform in music videos? Some of the more famous animated musical cats are the Kitty Cat Dance by Steve Ibsen,  the Record Store Cats, and Ninja and Viking Kittens from Joel Veitch. All are recommended for overall silliness.

5. Keyboard Cat

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Performer Charlie Schmidt made a funny video with his cat Fatso in 1984. It appeared that Fatso was playing the piano, but in actuality the very patient cat was acting as a puppet. The result was Cool Cat. The clip was uploaded to YouTube over twenty years later. In February of 2009, Brad O'Farrell used the Cool Cat video to "play someone off", but that video is now gone. He started a sensation, as everyone loved what is now called the "keyboard cat'. The fetching feline was tagged onto all sorts of videos, leading to the formation of at least two websites where such videos are displayed and a generator to help you make your own keyboard cat videos.

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Animals
Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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technology
ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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