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Tammy Green, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Celebrate Barbershop Quartet Day with Disney's Dapper Dans

Tammy Green, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

The Dapper Dans barbershop quartet has been charming audiences with old-timey tunes since they debuted at Disneyland in 1959. In honor of National Barbershop Quartet Day, check out a few of their most melodious moments—including barbershop twists on some familiar songs.

1. THE DISNEY MEDLEY

A typical Dapper Dans number? The Disney Medley, a set performed year-round, which includes songs like "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" and "When You Wish Upon A Star."

2. THE BOY BAND MEDLEY

For a 2013 special event called "Limited Time Magic," the Dans threw a selection of boy band hits into their mix. Songs from The Backstreet Boys, 'NSYNC, and One Direction all made the cut.

3. THE 'CADAVER DANS' HALLOWEEN MEDLEY

Every year, a few Disney parks host a special event called "Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party." The Cadaver Dans (the group's Hallow's Eve moniker) are exclusive to these parties, where they perform live renditions of songs from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and other haunted tunes.

4. THE CHRISTMAS CAROL MEDLEY

Similarly, the holiday season brings "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party" to the amusement parks. There, you'll find the Dans caroling in their holiday finest.

5. THE 'BAROQUE HOEDOWN' SONG FROM THE MAIN STREET ELECTRICAL PARADE

The Dapper Dans are multi-talented. In addition to singing, they also play Deacon Organ Chimes, perhaps most impressively in this rendition of the iconic Main Street Electrical Parade theme.

6. THE TIME THEY CHANNELED FROZEN'S ELSA

When Southwest Airlines opened a new nonstop route from Dallas's Love Field airport to Orlando in 2014, the Dans showed up to help passengers celebrate.

7. WHEN THEY HELPED WITH A WEDDING PROPOSAL

This bride-to-be thought she and her boyfriend had simply volunteered for an audience participation portion of the Dapper Dans set. What she didn't know was that her boyfriend had talked to the Dans before the performance to arrange for something a little more.

8. WHEN THEY SHOWED US HOW TO RIDE A BICYCLE BUILT FOR FOUR

The Disneyland quartet can often be found cruising around Main Street on a custom Schwinn bicycle built for four. Here's how they manage to accomplish that challenging task:

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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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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