Mid-Sagittal Music

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The official music video for Sivu's Better Man Than He:

According to Gavin Lucas, "Singing in a scanner", Creative Review 1/28/2013:

Director Adam Powell's latest music video (for musician Sivu's track Better Man Than He) was "shot" using an MRI scanner at London's St Bartholomew's Hospital

For more in the same vein, see Angela Watercuter, "What Beatboxing Looks Like Through an MRI Scanner", Wired 1/25/2013:

[Video no longer available?]

See this (from another source) instead:


For scientific details, see Michael Proctor, Erik Bresch, Dani Byrd, Krishna Nayak, and Srikanth Narayanan, "Paralinguistic mechanisms of production in human 'beatboxing': A real-time magnetic resonance imaging study", JASA 2013.


  1. Jayarava said,

    February 6, 2013 @ 10:49 am

    He displays the classic postural defect of our time – tense neck muscles pulling the head back and down. An over stimulated fight or flight response?

  2. Brad said,

    February 6, 2013 @ 11:56 am

    I was just reading that as him lying on his side in the MRI machine (which aren't exactly spacious), but I don't have the slightest qualification to interpret such things.

  3. J.W. Brewer said,

    February 6, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

    Harrumph. Shouldn't it be "Better Man Than Him"? I suppose it could be an allusion to the old Yardbirds etc. song "You're A Better Man Than I."

    [(myl) I think the singer-songwriter is Finnish, so we should cut him a bit of slack.]

  4. Neal Goldfarb said,

    February 6, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    Very cool but I bet it's tongue-synched.

    [(myl) Surely, because otherwise the very loud FRI magnet banging would be an issue.

    Down the road, though, maybe someone will co-write a song with one of the folks who do MRI pulse sequence design, so that the magnet noises will be part of the music…]

  5. Douglas Bagnall said,

    February 6, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

    Have these things been used in a more methodical way to test theories about the physiology of speech?

  6. William Steed said,

    February 6, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

    It's a pity about the echo. I imagine it was somewhat unavoidable. The best part of the beat-boxing, as far as I'm concerned, is the continuous velaric clicking coarticulated with the nasal hum. That takes an extra level of articulatory 'work' and timing to keep up.

  7. Anon said,

    February 6, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

    I'm pretty sure those are 'magnet noises' at the beginning of the song – around 0:04-0:05

  8. David Morris said,

    February 7, 2013 @ 6:32 am

    It's an elision of "A better man than he is", isn't it?

  9. Maria Mariani said,

    February 7, 2013 @ 10:31 am

    The Sivi video is absolutely fantastic. I have made a career teaching pronunciation. This is brilliant I especially like the lo-lo-lo-lo part for teaching tongue position for the /l/ ….think Japanese speakers.

  10. Rich Alderson said,

    February 7, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

    "than he/I" is historically earlier than "than him/me", and is still in some circles considered the "grammatical" form, for whatever polemical value you wish to assign the word "grammatical". It is certainly comfortable for many of us of a certain age in non-casual speech registers, probably a little more so that "It's he" vs. "It's him".

    NB: My own idiolect is mildly archaic, with morphological distinctions of "who/whom", phonological/phonetic distinctions of voiceless and voiced labial approximants (orthographical vs. ), and different vowels in "news" and "noon". I'm no longer in a good position to judge acceptability for a lot of spoken English.

  11. Matt said,

    February 8, 2013 @ 12:52 am

    Down the road, though, maybe someone will co-write a song with one of the folks who do MRI pulse sequence design, so that the magnet noises will be part of the music…

    Check out IRM, by Charlotte Gainsbourg. (And Beck!)

  12. SK said,

    February 8, 2013 @ 7:43 am

    I find it interesting that a few people have commented on the case of 'he', but nobody's mentioned feeling any grammatical uneasiness about the whole line, "You're such a better man than he". For me, this is totally impossible (whether with 'he' or 'him'), but I can't tell why:

    You're a good man – fine.
    You're such a good man – fine.
    You're a better man than [he/him/he is] – fine.
    *You're such a better man than [he/him/he is] – ungrammatical.

    This is despite the fact that the meaning of the ungrammatical sentence is perfectly clear. In fact I can't think of a good non-stilted way to get that meaning across at all without recasting the sentence altogether: 'You're a so much better man than him' is the best I can come up with.
    Do other people share these intuitions, or is there some variation here?

  13. Roger Lustig said,

    February 8, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    @Jayavara: Definitely overstimulated flight response. 3 hours in coach, minimum.

  14. Steve Harris said,

    February 10, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    @SK: I can't point to anything I feel is ungrammatical about "such a better", but it does feel awkward or unnatural. I think it's the clash between the high degree of intensification that "such a" invokes and the rather hum-drum degree of comparison that "better" conveys.

    I'm neutral on the "than he/him" question; my idiolect (60s, mostly urban midwest US) goes for "than him", but doesn't object to coming across "than he".

  15. Charlotte said,

    April 2, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

    Since "such" can be used before an attributive adjective to indicate manner or (here) degree, I have no problems with "such a better man." One can quibble that "he" is incorrect, unless one allows the poetic license of the implied "is" afterwards. My problem is with the blood and guts distraction from the lips and tongue formation. Either show the whole video as a near abstraction (which I suppose it is to most), or focus on the lips and tongue for phonological purposes.

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