Archive for Acoustics

AI-assisted substitute vocal cords

This is what the device looks like and how it is made:

Jun Chen Lab/UCLA
The two components — and five layers — of the device allow it to turn muscle
movement into electrical signals which, with the help of machine learning,
are ultimately converted into speech signals and audible vocal expression.

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"Shribe" in Mongolian historiography

A couple of days ago, I was having a conversation with one of my former students at a tea/coffee shop (that's what I call 'em because I don't drink coffee very often, almost never).

We were talking about a controversy in Mongolian historiography.  It was a question of whether it is ever suitable to use a certain term to describe the social organization of the Mongols.  He kept saying a word that sounded to me like "shribe".  Since I didn't know that word, I asked him to elucidate various aspects of the problem, and he kept saying "shribe" this, "shribe" that, e.g., that one side of the debate says you can't use the word "shribe" with regard to Mongolian history because "shribes" can't form states, but then that would be to deny the possibility of state formation to the Mongols.  The other side says that "shribes" can form states, so the Mongols could form states even though they had "shribes" in their social organization.  Or something like that.

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Why we all need subtitles now

[10:42 video — entertaining and informative]

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More Q-song copying?

In a comment on yesterday's "Q song?" post, AntC wrote:

Investigating Feelgood's (alleged) oeuvre further, other than the vacuous stuff, there seem to a diverse range of 'soundscapes' from 'grunge' to 'house' to (almost) lullabies to vaudeville. All of them very derivative. I greatly doubt they were the fruit of one mind; I suspect they're all just ripped off. Many on Silver Cloud 5 have Q-aligned titles.

So I thought I'd spend a couple of minutes checking it out — and so far, it appears that AntC is correct.

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Q Song?

Update 9/21/2022 — See "'Mirrors' composer rejects Richard Feelgood and Donald Trump" for confirmation by the original composer of the plagiarism documented below.

Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, "Trump Rally Plays Music Resembling QAnon Song, and Crowds React", NYT 9/18/2022:

Former President Donald J. Trump appeared to more fully embrace QAnon on Saturday, playing a song at a political rally in Ohio that prompted attendees to respond with a salute in reference to the cultlike conspiracy theory’s theme song.

While speaking in Youngstown in support of J.D. Vance, whom he has endorsed as Ohio’s Republican nominee for the Senate, Mr. Trump delivered a dark address about the decline of America over music that was all but identical to a song called “Wwg1wga” — an abbreviation for the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all.”

As Mr. Trump spoke, scores of people in the crowd raised fingers in the air in an apparent reference to the “1” in what they thought was the song’s title. It was the first time in the memory of some Trump aides that such a display had occurred at one of his rallies.

Aides to Mr. Trump said the song played at the rally was called “Mirrors,” and it was selected for use in a video that Mr. Trump played at the conservative meeting CPAC and posted on his social media site, Truth Social. But it sounds strikingly like the QAnon theme song.

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New Year's acoustics

Poujol, Mathis, Régis Wunenburger, François Ollivier, Arnaud Antkowiak, and Juliette Pierre. "Sound of effervescence.Physical Review Fluids 6, no. 1 (2021): 013604:

Capillary bubbles burst at a free surface following a rapid sequence of events occurring at different length scales and timescales: hole nucleation, fast retraction of the micron-thick liquid film in a few microseconds preluding the much slower overall collapse of the millimeter-sized bubble in a matter of milliseconds. Each of these steps is associated with unsteady fluid forces and accelerations, and therefore with sound radiation. In this experimental study we focus on the airborne sound generated during bubble bursting. Investigating the physical mechanism at the root of sound emission with the help of synchronized fast imaging and sound recordings, we quantitatively link the film retraction dynamics with the frequency content of the acoustic signal. We demonstrate that, contrary to a Minnaert resonance scenario, the frequency here drifts and increases, consistent with a Helmholtz-type resonance of the cavity being more and more opened as the thin film retracts. We propose as an extension a simple model based on a collection of drifting Helmholtz resonators capturing the main features of the fizzing sound of an effervescing beverage.

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"Classic Female Poison Earplugs" — Ask Language Log

Image and query from Hans Oddvar Vannes:

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How and why some insects sing

I was going to title this post "Insect vocalisms", but thought better of it, because I didn't want anyone to think I was claiming any kind of linguistic quality for the mind-boggling acoustic phenomenon that I witnessed on Saturday.  Though what I heard was not language in any way, shape, or form, it did impart an overwhelming message.

I was on a long run in the mountains of western Pennsylvania.  I started out from Breezewood and headed for Bedford along Route 30 (Lincoln Highway).  As I ran happily at a comfortable clip, I was puzzled by a shrill ringing noise that accompanied me all the way.  I couldn't tell where the loud, high-pitched sound was coming from.  For awhile I thought it might be some mining operation underground, but I soon dismissed that theory because it lasted too long and I seemed to be enveloped in the noise.  All around me were forests and woods, and the constant ringing seemed to be emanating from them.

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Throat whistling?

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Zoom time

I'm involved with several projects that analyze recordings from e-interviews conducted using systems like Zoom, Bluejeans, and WebEx. Some of our analysis techniques rely on timing information, and so it's natural to wonder how much distortion might be introduced by those systems' encoding, transmission, and decoding processes.

Why might timing in particular be distorted? Because any internet-based audio or video streaming system encodes the signal at the source into a series of fairly small packets, sends them individually by diverse routes to the destination, and then assembles them again at the end.

If the transmission is one-way, then the system can introduce a delay that's long enough to ensure that all the diversely-routed packets get to the destination in time to be reassembled in the proper order — maybe a couple of seconds of buffering. But for a conversational system, that kind of latency disrupts communication, and so the buffering delays used by broadcasters and streaming services are not possible. As a result, there may be missing packets at decoding time, and the system has to deal with that by skipping, repeating, or interpolating (the signal derived from) packets, or by just freezing up for a while.

It's not clear (at least to me) how much of this happens when, or how to monitor it. (Though it's easy to see that the video signal in such conversations is often coarsely sampled or even "frozen", and obvious audio glitches sometimes occur as well.) But the results of a simple test suggest that more subtle time distortion is sometimes a problem for the audio channel as well.

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The "Mosquito" in Philadelphia

Michaela Winberg, "Sonic Devices Target Teenagers In Philadelphia", NPR 7/5/2019:

WINBERG: If you look at the rec center building at Philadelphia's East Poplar Playground, you'll see a small beige speaker screwed into the wall. Every night at 10 p.m., that tiny speaker activates. And for eight hours, it plays nonstop. Here's what it sounds like.


WINBERG: Didn't hear anything? If so, it's likely you are not between the ages of 13 and 25. That's the age group this sound is targeted toward. As we age, some of the cells in our ears start to die off. So when we get older, we have trouble hearing higher-frequency noises like the one that this device plays.

Philadelphia resident Lamar Reed is 17, and he hears the noise loud and clear.

LAMAR REED: It's so loud. Like, it can – like, what if it damages our ears or anything like – something like that?

WINBERG: It's called the Mosquito, and it's an acoustic deterrent device, technology used to keep humans or animals away from a designated area. It's usually used by law enforcement or the military. The Mosquito was manufactured by Vancouver-based Moving Sound Technologies. Michael Gibson is the company's president and says he has worked with about 20 parks departments in cities around the country to install his devices.

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