Odds and Sods

Presented by Shawn Klein

Airs The 4th Friday of the month at 17:30 UTC, repeated Saturday at 06:30 UTC and Monday at 16:30 UTC

A half-hour monthly show featuring interesting things and curiosities Shawn has found on the Internet, touching on a variety of subjects. Humanity’s first recordings of its own voice in the 1850s, the US government bouncing shortwave signals off the moon, an old world-war II era film about the use of radio during the war, auditory illusions, alternate musical scales, what noise does an ostrich make? And other unusual and rare sounds, These and much more are fair game on Odds and Sods.

Recent Shows

January 2019

This month we’re learning about microtonal or xenharmonic music. Microtonal music is a collective name for various kinds of music that use tone systems different from what is customary in Western music. ... The distance from one key/tone to the next is called a semitone; twelve of these semitones make an octave. In microtonal tone systems this is different. Some systems are thousands of years old and come from non-western cultures. Some come from imaginative 20th and 21st century composers and musicians and even mathematicians, these days there’s a microtonal community putting out all sorts of interesting stuff online. We’re going to hear from one of these xenharmonic enthusiasts.

December 2018

Does Today's Music Suck? Has it gotten worse over the years? Maybe not. Maybe it's just a part of the natural cycle of complexity versus simplicity that goes back centuries. We'll hear an interesting opposing viewpoint in this month's show, as well as a satirical look back at some earlier eras and their generation gaps.

November 2018

Thursday November 22nd was Thanksgiving here in the states! So this month, America! First, we'll hear about the first Thanksgiving song, that everybody thinks is a Christmas song. We'll then hear the first audio recording of it made back in 1898. Next, we'll hear a couple songs and dances of the Wampanoag nation. Who the heck are they? They're the Indians, I mean native Americans, that helped out the pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving back in 1621. But actually Thanksgiving didn't become a holiday until president Abraham Lincoln declared it one in the middle of the Civil War in 1863. So finally we'll listen to some Youtube vids from the Museum of the Confederacy and find out what the rebel yell actually sounded like. Only in the first decade of the 21st century were some recordings from the 1930s found, where a couple of old civil war vets had duplicated that fearsome battle cry they employed so many decades before. So now those civil war reenactors can finally get it right.
Woh-who-ee! who-ee! who-ee!

October 2018

This month, Trick or Tweet! In this month's show I’ll be delving into the wonders of bird song, with a Halloween-style twist. We’re going to slow down the sounds and songs of birds 5, 10 and even 20 times to unearth their unearthly, sometimes spooky, sometimes alien seeming, and sometimes almost human seeming nature. We’ll hear some unique birds from north America, Europe, Australia, and the Bluebird of Paradise from New Guinea who’s song is hypnotic at normal speed, but at 1 quarter speed sounds like something from a Martian discotech.

September 2018

In the first half of this month’s show, When Music was Mechanical, part 3, the final installment. For the rest of the show we’ll explore musical clocks. No, not yee old radio alarm clock, but musical clocks of a considerably older variety. Beginning in the late 18th century, the Black Forest area of Germany began turning out a variety of musical clocks. They didn’t just chime and cuckoo. There were flute clocks, trumpeter clocks that were actually a self-contained clockwork driven miniature pipe organ, and even clocks that used the friction of toothed gear wheels to imitate the sound of a rooster. So we’ll listen to 3 vids from BlackForestClocks.org’s Youtube channel by Justin J Miller describing 4 of these interesting time pieces.

August 2018

This month, When Music was Mechanical part 2.

Back in early 1973, Other Minds guru Charles Amirkhanian visited the Oakland Museum and recorded a walking tour of its exhibition, “When Music Was Mechanical,” curated by Gretchen Schneider. The hour-plus recording (MP3) features numerous examples of automated music, including the Lyon and Healy Empress Electric Orchestrion, the Wurlitzer Model 165 Band Organ and the Mira Music Box. Originally broadcast on January 25, 1973, on KPFA and KPFB, the exhibit ran from December 16, 1972 through February 4, 1973. Not only is there a lot of mechanical music recorded, but Amirkhanian describes in detail many of the instruments and Schneider talks about the show’s curation, which focuses on machines from the start of the 20th century, and she discusses the complexities of having multiple sound sources in a single exhibit (another name considered for the event was “Christmas Cacophonia”). She mentions two organizations to which most collectors, at the time, belonged: the Musical Box Society and the Automatical Musical Instruments Collector’s Association. Thirty-plus years later, of course, each has its own website: mbsi.org, amica.org. According to Schneider, the show was one of the museum’s most popular exhibits at that point in its history, with so many visitors that many had trouble seeing the instruments.
https://disquiet.com/2006/06/16/mechanized-instrument-exhibit-mp3/

July 2018

This month, When Music was Mechanical part 1.

Back in early 1973, Other Minds guru Charles Amirkhanian visited the Oakland Museum and recorded a walking tour of its exhibition, “When Music Was Mechanical,” curated by Gretchen Schneider. The hour-plus recording (MP3) features numerous examples of automated music, including the Lyon and Healy Empress Electric Orchestrion, the Wurlitzer Model 165 Band Organ and the Mira Music Box. Originally broadcast on January 25, 1973, on KPFA and KPFB, the exhibit ran from December 16, 1972 through February 4, 1973. Not only is there a lot of mechanical music recorded, but Amirkhanian describes in detail many of the instruments and Schneider talks about the show’s curation, which focuses on machines from the start of the 20th century, and she discusses the complexities of having multiple sound sources in a single exhibit (another name considered for the event was “Christmas Cacophonia”). She mentions two organizations to which most collectors, at the time, belonged: the Musical Box Society and the Automatical Musical Instruments Collector’s Association. Thirty-plus years later, of course, each has its own website: mbsi.org, amica.org. According to Schneider, the show was one of the museum’s most popular exhibits at that point in its history, with so many visitors that many had trouble seeing the instruments.
https://disquiet.com/2006/06/16/mechanized-instrument-exhibit-mp3/

June 2018

This month we're re-broadcasting the June 2017 edition.

May 2018

This month's show is all about auditory illusions, like that yanny and laurel thing. We'll hear never-ending glissandos, non-existent phantom tones, phantom words, talking pianos and more. And oh yeah. We'll talk about that yanny and laurel thing.

Related links:
Convert WAV (or MP3, OGG, AAC, WMA) to MIDI - Bear File Converter - Online & Free Auditory Illusions: Hearing Lyrics Where There Are None - YouTube full video Diana Deutsch Illusions and Explanations AsapSCIENCE on Youtube AlanKey86 on Youtube BrainCraft on Youtube BrainCraft on Facebook New York Times’ Yanny Laurel tool.

April 2018

This month, first part: the most unusual sounds in human languages, some of which you don’t realize, but you already make. Second part: How to hear an example of any language you ever wanted to hear, and it’s all on Youtube.

March 2018

On this month’s show we ask the question what does the fish say?

The Oceans aren’t a silent world, even if that’s what Jacques Cousteau titled his book. There are plenty of Purrs, Grunts, Hums, farts, clicks, scrapes and Hoots to be heard, and we’re going to hear some. We’ll even hear excerpts from a 1955 phonograph of bioacoustics recordings from the early 50s. But that’s not all! Hook some electrodes in the water to an audio amplifier, and you can tune into the electric world of electric fish. We’ll learn how electric fish produce electricity, what they use it for, and we’ll listen to an electric eel named Mr. Unagi as he hunts down goldfish in his tank. Buz’z’z’z’z’z’z?

Here are some further online resources:
Fish That Make Sound: Purrs, Grunts, Hums, and Hoots
Fishes: Discovery of Sound in the Sea
Elkhorn Slough Foundation
Rodney Roundtree’s website
Miguel Wattson the tweeting electric eel
Discovery News

February 2018

This month we take a virtual trip to the Cape to hear the Space X Falcon Heavy launch from February 7 like you never heard it before, through the wonders of binaural audio. Then we learn how the human ear locates sound. Destin from Youtube channels Smarter Every Day and the Sound Traveler shows us how he, his sister and son found a missing toy drone in a tree by sound localization. He talks about how we localize sounds in the vertical plane, and he tricks his son’s brain by putting playdough in his outer ears.


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