Posts Tagged ‘geeky’


Beatles mystery solved with Fourier transform

November 9, 2008

[embedded YouTube video; if you can’t see it, click here]

Regular readers of this blog know that, while it’s mostly about indie pop, there’s also a healthy dose of geekiness, and today we are departing from our usual musical genre to amp up the geek quotient.

I was intrigued to hear that the mystery of the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night” (which you can hear in the video, above) was finally solved. For forty years, it’s vexed guitar players because no one could replicate the sound. But a Dalhousie University mathematician, Jason Brown, used a Fourier transform to figure it out. This mathematical technique can be used to decompose the sound into its component frequencies, and Brown showed that there was one frequency that couldn’t be accounted for by George Harrison’s 12-string, Paul McCartney’s bass, or John Lennon’s guitar. This extra note was a clue that the missing element was a piano chord, played by ‘fifth Beatle’ George Martin.

There’s a nice post on Noise Addicts that includes links to a PDF of the paper and to additional information about the chord.


Listen local: The Franklin Kite

January 30, 2008

blog readability test

According to the Blog Readability Test at Critics Rant, the reading level of this blog is ‘genius’ — in the same category as The Economist and Nature, and considerably less readable than, say, Boing Boing (‘elementary school’) or the New York Times (‘junior high school’).

However, in my (admittedly feeble) defense, I’d like to point out that Cambridge, MA, probably has the world’s highest concentration of literate, geeky bands with overeducated lead singers. So instead of talking about bands whose lyrics are in the ‘yeah yeah yeah baby’ school, I get to enthuse about bands like The Franklin Kite, whose lyrics include words like ‘disambiguate,’ ‘conducive,’ and ‘malignant.’ Lead singer Ryan Hickox just got his PhD in astrophysics from MIT (and to celebrate his successful thesis defence, they held a concert). He’s still local though, having joined the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as a postdoc. If you are in the neighbourhood, go check them out at Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square on Friday, February 1st, 2008 (I think it’s some kind of Harvard-oriented concert, but don’t let that put you off).

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MP3: The Franklin Kite – Miraculous