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

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.

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.

January 2018

This month on Odds and Sods, it’s everything you ever wanted to know about high fidelity, 1950s style. We’ll hear an early 50’s record simply called High Fidelity which goes into technical detail about frequency ranges and the like. We’ll hear each one isolated, what does an orchestra sound like with just the frequencies above 8000 cycles present? Etcetera. On side 2 we’ll hear an orchestra taken apart and put back together before our very ears.

December 2017

This month's odds and sods is going to be almost the opposite of October's spooky show. What makes a musical sound sound pleasant? Does our culture determine what we like? if you were never exposed to western music, what does consonance and dissonance mean to you? Some scientists went to a remote community in the amazon to find out.

How about your personality? Another group discovered that your personality determines your musical tastes. And finally, does what you hear make your food taste different? You'll be surprised at the answer.

November 2017

Warning! This month’s Odds and Sods may contain artificial ingredients. This month we learn about Lyrebird.ai which allows you to create your own digital voice for free. Lyrebird says it will help those who get injured or disabled and can no longer speak to use their own voice. Pundits say the new technology may allow Internet trolls, state and non-state actors alike, to take over the world with fake news, as if they’re not already doing that. I didn’t say that lol, blame my digital evil twin. Anyway, we’ll hear some folks discussing this very possibility, and then we’ll hear a bit of a demo from a Youtuber creating his own voice. We’ll finish with a song composed entirely by Google’s AI last year with their Magenta project. A bit of humor mixed with a bit of serious thinking about this crazy future we’re headed for.

October 2017

What makes for a scary sound? Why is scary music scary? On October's Halloween Odds and Sods we go to Youtube to explore the science of scary sounds. We'll finish with a holophonic, binaural, virtual visit to an insane asylum. They're coming to take you away ha haaaah!

September 2017

What does the fox really say? Chirping cheetahs, yodeling dogs, ostriches that sound like a sinister Santa Claus if Santa Claus was actually a giant owl, squeaking porcupines, birds that play classical music, synthetic dinosaur noises, this and much more on this month’s Odds and Sods.

August 2017

This month we hear reactions, human and animal, to the August 21 eclipse, from a wildlife center in Oregon, a zoo in South Carolina, a couple of locations in Idaho, and in Atchison Kansas where Shawn lives.

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