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The Late Movies: Here Come the Pixies

It has lately come to my attention that some very smart people I know -- who otherwise have great taste in music and art and all things cultural -- don't know who the Pixies are. If this is the case with any of our readers, I'm going to fix that today. The Pixies are revered as the indie rockers who started it all, so influential that Kurt Cobain once famously called Nevermind his attempt to "rip off the Pixies." It's also the 20th anniversary of the Pixies' breakthrough album, Doolittle, and I was lucky enough last week to see them perform it live, in order, first track to last. It was such a great time, I thought I'd try and replicate the experience a little bit right here on the blog. Ladies, and gentlemen -- this is Dootlittle.

"Debaser"

"Tame"

"Wave of Mutilation"

This was from the concert on the night that I saw it, shot by someone who had a much better place to stand than I did.

"I Bleed"

"Here Comes Your Man"

Frontman Frank Black wrote this song when he was fifteen years old. FIFTEEN.

"Dead"

"Monkey Gone to Heaven"

Classic, classic, classic.

"Mr. Grieves"

And here's TV on the Radio doing a really interesting a capella cover of "Mr. Grieves."

"Crackity Jones"

A song about a crazy Puerto Rican roommate Frank Black once had.

"La La Love You"

The only Pixies song sung by drummer David Lovering.

"No. 13 Baby"

"There Goes My Gun"

"Hey"

"Silver"

This song and "Gigantic" were the only ones in the Pixies catalog penned by bassist Kim Deal.

"Gouge Away"

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Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
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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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