CLOSE

The Language of Typography

If you’ve ever had to learn a new language on the fly in a foreign country, you’ll know how disorienting, humbling, and exhilarating it can be; it has a way of making the whole world seem new again. A language teaching company called EF recently commissioned a series of videos that captures that feeling perfectly, and with the help of some excellent photography, catchy music, and a willowy model or three, they make you want to fly to Paris right now and start fumbling to order something at a boulangerie in broken French. Also, check out the excellent typography —

EF – Live The Language – Paris from Albin Holmqvist on Vimeo.

This one, all about Barcelona, feels more like it’s selling American Apparel clothes than a language course, but I’m won over nonetheless.

EF – Live The Language – Barcelona from Albin Holmqvist on Vimeo.

Chinese has always intimidated me, but this kind of makes me want to give it a shot.

EF – Live The Language – Beijing from Albin Holmqvist on Vimeo.

And finally, the charming struggle of someone learning English in London. Mum and Dad can help! Just watch out for the vicious gangs of Keep Left signs.

EF – Live The Language – London from Albin Holmqvist on Vimeo.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
music
Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice
iStock
iStock

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]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
quiz
Orange-Themed Trivia
iStock
iStock

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios