Picture a seven-foot grand piano in a studio. The lid’s missing, so you can see all the strings. Researchers suspend a rod embedded with 32 microphones over the piano’s body.
“We played this middle C at a very soft level, a medium level, and a very loud level,” says Agnieszka Roginska, a professor in NYU’s music technology program. She says using a pianist to play middle C over and over wouldn’t be scientific. So they’re using a disklavier, a fancy player piano triggered by electronics. “So we could hit the same note, with the same velocity, thousands of times,” she says.
They’d record the piano in one spot. Then move the microphones eight inches. Record the note. Move the mics again. Record the note. Over and over and over, until they reach the back of the piano. At the end, they get “what is basically a very dense acoustical scan of the radiation pattern of the grand piano,” Roginska says.
1653 ~ Johann Pachelbel, German composer and organist
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• 1887 ~ Emile Berliner filed for a patent for his invention of the lateral-cut, flat-disk gramophone. We know it better as the record player. Emile got the patent, but Thomas Edison got the notoriety for making it work and making music with his invention.
1854 ~ Engelbert Humperdinck, German opera composer
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• 1933 ~ Conway Twitty (Harold Lloyd Jenkins), Songwriter, CMA Male Vocalist of the
Year in 1975, Grammy Award-winner with Loretta Lynn, owns booking agency, music publishing company, Twitty Burgers, Twitty City theme park
1935 ~ Seiji Ozawa, Japanese conductor
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• 1940 ~ Dave White (Tricker), Singer, songwriter with Danny & The Juniors
• 1944 ~ Leonard Slatkin, Grammy Award-winning orchestra director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra
• 1946 ~ Barry Gibb, Musician, rhythm guitar, songwriter, singer with The Bee Gees
• 1946 ~ Greg Errico, Drummer with Sly and The Family Stone
• 1955 ~ Bruce Foxton, Guitar with 100 Men and The Jam
• 1957 ~ Gloria Estefan (Gloria Maria Milagrosa Fajardo), ‘Queen of Latin Pop’, Grammy Award-winning singer
• 1960 ~ When Oscar Hammerstein II died, the musical theater lost an outstanding composer. To honor the man and his music, every New York theater turned off its lights on this night in 1960.
• 1972 ~ The O’Jays received a gold record for Back Stabbers. It was the first hit for the group from Canton, OH. The O’Jays would place nine more hits on the pop and R&B charts. Five of them were gold record winners: Love Train, I Love Music, Use ta Be My Girl, For the Love of Money and Put Your Hands Together.
• 1977 ~ Singer Debbie Harry (of Blondie) signed a recording deal with Chrysalis Records. Chrysalis bought the group’s private stock label for $500,000. With the high visibility of the former Playboy Bunny, it was difficult to think of Blondie as a band, and not just Debbie Harry.
• 1982 ~ Clifford M Curzon, England, pianist, died at the age of 75
• 2001 ~ Sil Austin, a jazz artist who recorded more than 30 albums and the Top 40 hits Slow Walk, My Mother’s Eyes, and his signature song, Danny Boy, died of prostate cancer. He was 71. Austin taught himself how to play the tenor saxophone when he was 12. Four years later, he played Danny Boy on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour, a performance that caught the attention of Mercury Records. Austin performed all over Europe and Asia, usually traveling with his wife, the Rev. Vernice Austin.