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Classical Music a Money Magnet

My son does not appreciate classical musicians such as the Stones; he is more into bands with names like "Heave" and "Squatting Turnips."

- Dave Barry

London, England - Music is the food of love, according to the bard.  And classical music, it seems, may be manna for restaurateurs.  The strains of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven played in restaurants makes diners feel more affluent and encourages them to spend, according to research released by the University of Leicester in central England on Tuesday.

"When you hear a piece of music it activates all types of knowledge," said Adrian North, a senior lecturer in psychology at the university who carried out tests in a restaurant near Leicester over a period of three weeks.  "If you hear classical music, it has got all sorts of connotations of sophistication, affluence and wealth and it makes you feel a bit posh.  In a restaurant, this has the effect of making you spend a bit more money."  Researchers found that classical music, often associated with affluence, was the most successful in encouraging people to part with their cash, with diners spending more than 24 pounds (US$40) a head.  But when the music was Britney Spears, diners spent less than 22 pounds (US$36.75) a head, they found.  With no background music, spending fell to around 21 pounds (US$35).

"Where people were really spending the money was on the luxury items, such as starters, desserts and coffees," said North.  James Davis, proprietor of Softleys restaurant in Market Bosworth, where the research was carried out, said: "I think this research will definitely affect what we play in the future."

Source:  Tuesday 7 October 2003

Organ Music "Instills Religious Feelings"

by Jonathan Amos

People who experience a sense of spirituality in church may be reacting to the extreme bass sound produced by some organ pipes.  Many churches and cathedrals have organ pipes that are so long they emit infrasound which at a frequency lower than 20 Hertz is largely inaudible to the human ear.  But in a controlled experiment in which infrasound was pumped into a concert hall, UK scientists found they could instil strange feelings in the audience at will.  These included an extreme sense of sorrow, coldness, anxiety and even shivers down the spine.

Infrasound has become the subject of intense study in recent years.  Researchers have found that some animals, such as elephants, can communicate with low-frequency calls.  Infrasound can be detected at volcanoes and may provide a way to predict eruptions.  And recent work by some of the scientists involved in this latest study found that hauntings - the feeling that something or someone else unseen is in a room or building - may also be explained by the presence of infrasound.

To test the impact on an audience of extreme bass notes from an organ pipe, researchers constructed a 7-metre-long "infrasonic cannon" which they placed at the back of the Purcell Room, a concert hall in South London.  They then invited 750 people to report their feelings after listening to pieces of contemporary music intermittently laced with sound from the cannon, played a 17 Hz at levels of 6 - 8 decibels.  The results showed that odd sensations in the audience increased by an average of 22% when the extreme bass was present.

"It has been suggested that because some organ pipes in churches and cathedrals produce infrasound this could lead to people having weird experiences which they attribute to God," said Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire.  "Some of the experiences in our audience included 'shivering on my wrist', 'an odd feeling in my stomach', 'increased heart rate', 'feeling very anxious', and 'a sudden memory of emotional loss'.  This was an experiment done under controlled conditions and it shows infrasound does have an impact, and that has implications... in a religious context and some of the unusual experiences people may be having in certain churches."

Sarah Angliss, an engineer and composer in charge of the project, added: "Organ players have been adding infrasound to the mix for 500 years so maybe we're not the first generation to be 'addicted to bass'."  Details of the organ infrasound study are being presented to the British Association's annual science festival, which this year is in Salford, Greater Manchester.

Source:  Monday 8 September 2003 BBC News Online science staff, in Salford

Infrasound Study

Lies in the range 10-20 Hz
On the cusp of our hearing
Can vibrate internal organs
Volcanoes emit infrasound
Elephants and whales use it

Pianists May One Day Be Tickling the Cardboards

Developments in paper pressed circuits are "key" in next generation printing techniques. SCA

Sockholm - It's a mover's dream and sure to capture the fancy of anyone who tickles the ivories: a grand piano made only of cardboard that sounds almost like the real thing.  Developments in paper pressed circuits are "key" in next generation printing techniques.  But don't expect to find one at your local music store just yet.  Researchers with Swedish packaging company SCA have only built a few, and those are still being used for tests.

The cardboard piano uses integrated circuits that are pressed onto paper instead of silicon chips or circuit boards.  It's based on technology developed to make paper products that change colour or include radio-frequency tags for inventory control.  Ulf Carlsson, SCA's head of development and research, said the cardboard piano features all 88 keys.  Press one, and the circuit beneath it sends a signal to an external loudspeaker, which plays the appropriate sound.  "It sounds almost like the real thing, but it is much cheaper - and lighter," says Carlsson.

There are no immediate plans to market the piano.  Rather, Carlsson said, it's being used to show off the development of next-generation printing techniques.

Source:  3 June 2004 Copyright Associated Press

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