Write a Mozart Waltz With a Game He May Have Invented

John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images
John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is known for his musical genius, but for the rest of us, writing the kind of music he could dash off with his eyes closed isn’t exactly easy. But what if you could write a Mozart waltz without knowing a single note? It’s possible—thanks to an 18th-century dice game the maestro himself may have invented.

It’s called a Musikalisches Würfelspiel, a more German way of saying “musical dice game.” The concept is simple: Toss a few dice and use the corresponding numbers to select a short snippet of music. String together the music and voila—a waltz!

The game’s easy to play even if you don’t know any music—or have any dice. The concept, which is used by [PDF] computer science professors to teach their students about two-dimensional arrays and random number generation, has inspired student websites for years. These days, there’s even an app, Mozart Dice Game, to help you do it at home.

Although Mozart’s name is frequently attached to the game, it’s not really clear whether he invented it. Dice were popular in Mozart’s day, and similar games have been attributed to other masters like Joseph Haydn and C.P.E. Bach (son of the more famous Bach). Since Mozart was so popular, it’s possible that his name was simply added onto the game to earn more money. (And Mozart’s love of potty humor, games, and low culture—which would have included playing dice—is well known.)

But we do know that Mozart invented another musical game. When he died, a mysterious paper was apparently discovered in his archives. It includes 39 minuet fragments of two measures each, labeled by Mozart with the letters of the alphabet. Historians now think it’s a game—this one designed to use words and names to create a minuet, although there were no specific instructions included.

Mozart apparently saw music as child’s play, but it’s not clear if he actually used games to compose. That said, he seems to have liked composing while playing other games, like lawn bowling. Of course, having fun always makes music sound sweeter—and many of us might never compose a line without a game to begin with.

Vlasic Is Working on Pickle Chips Made Entirely of Pickles

iStock.com/bigacis
iStock.com/bigacis

It's easy to find pre-sliced pickle chips in a jar, but if you prefer to eat your snacks out of a bag, your pickle options are limited. Both Doritos and Lays potato chips have released products where pickles are used as flavoring and not the main ingredient. Now, the experts at Vlasic are developing bags of chips that don't just taste like pickles, but are made from real pickle slices, USA Today reports.

Vlasic's parent company Conagra Brands confirmed during a recent investor event that crunchy, snackable chips made entirely of pickles are in the works. Instead of struggling to open a jar every time you crave pickles, you'll be able to eat these chips straight from a bag. They will be vacuum-fried, making them dry and crispy like potato chips.

Vlasic hasn't revealed when the pickle chips will be released, or where they will be available to buy. But according to USA Today, Conagra co-chief operating officer Tom McGough did reveal that they "taste absolutely fantastic."

Can't wait to for Vlasic's pickle chips to arrive in your local grocery store? Here are some products that taste and smell like pickles to try in the meantime.

[h/t USA Today]

The Helvetica Font Has Been Revamped for the First Time in Decades

Monotype
Monotype

The Helvetica font family is everywhere. It’s used on everything from subway signage to federal tax forms to advertisements for a diverse group of companies, including Harley-Davidson, Oral-B, and Target. Job seekers are also likely familiar with its clean, sans-serif characters, which make it one of the best fonts for a resume.

“If it's me, [I’m using] Helvetica,” Matt Luckhurst, a graphic designer, told Bloomberg in 2015. “Helvetica is beautiful. There is only one Helvetica.”

Until now. As Wired reports, the typeface has just been revamped for the first time in decades by Monotype, which boasts the world’s largest type library and owns the rights to Helvetica. The new and improved version, called Helvetica Now, aims to better serve modern users while also working out the kinks associated with the old design.

The new Helvetica font
Monotype

While Helvetica is still ubiquitous, several major companies—including Google, Apple, IBM, and Netflix—have dropped the typeface for branding purposes in recent years. Issues related to kerning, punctuation sizes, and scrunched characters are all common gripes with the old version.

By contrast, Helvetica Now comes in three versions to suit different needs. There’s a Micro version for small screens, a Display version for larger type sizes, and a Text version that makes use of white space to offset visually “demanding” designs. Companies will need to buy the license to the new Helvetica, but the font’s creators are hopeful that everyone will be making the switch in due time.

“Helvetica Now is the tummy-tuck, facelift, and lip filler we’ve been wanting, but were too afraid to ask for,” graphic designer Abbott Miller, a partner at design consultancy Pentagram, said in a statement. “It offers beautifully drawn alternates to some of Helvetica’s most awkward moments, giving it a surprisingly, thrillingly contemporary character.”

The original Helvetica was invented in 1957 by two Swiss designers who dubbed their typeface Neue Haas Grotesk. It wasn’t until 1961 that the typeface was renamed Helvetica, and the font’s last major facelift came in 1982 with the release of the desktop-friendly Neue Helvetica.

Of course, that was pre-internet, and Monotype’s director, Charles Nix, says everyone's font needs have changed a great deal in the intervening decades. “Neue Helvetica was the first digitization of Helvetica,” Nix said. “That was a long time ago, and so much has happened in our world since then.”

[h/t Wired]

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