Precursor to mp3s restored
NEW Zealand researchers have announced they have restored the first recording of computer-generated music, created in 1951 on a gigantic contraption built by British genius Alan Turing.
The aural artefact, which paved the way for everything from synthesisers to modern electronica, opens with a staunchly conservative tune – the British national anthem “God Save the King”.
Researchers at the University of Canterbury (UC) in Christchurch said it showed Turing – best known as the father of computing who broke the World War I Enigma Code – was also a musical innovator.
“Alan Turing’s pioneering work in the late 1940s on transforming the computer into a musical instrument has been largely overlooked,” they said.
The recording was made 65 years ago by a BBC outside-broadcast unit at the Computing Machine Laboratory in Manchester, northern England.
The machine, which filled much of the lab’s ground floor, was used to generate three melodies: “God Save the King”, “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and Glenn Miller’s swing classic “In the Mood”.
But when UC professor Jack Copeland and composer Jason Long examined the 12-inch (30.5 centimetre) acetate disc containing the music, they found the audio was distorted.
“The frequencies in the recording were not accurate. The recording gave at best only a rough impression of how the computer sounded,” they said.
They fixed it with electronic detective work, tweaking the speed of the audio, compensating for a “wobble” in the recording and filtering out extraneous noise.
“It was a beautiful moment when we first heard the true sound of Turing’s computer,” Copeland and Long said in a blog post on the British Library website.
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THU THU AUNG
IT may seem like the end of the earth, but it’s worth it for the food alone. Myitkyina, capital of Kachin State, is not a drop-in kind of place. Getting there by plane often takes several short domestic flights, and driving from Yangon can take up to two arduous days on winding mountain roads. The state is better known for its IDP camps, the tangled armed conflicts that gave rise to them, and for the controversial Myitsone dam project than as a tourist destination, but there is much more to Kachin State than the headlines may have you believe. Here’s The Myanmar Times’ guide to the must-have experiences of Myitkyina:
What to eat: For Kachin traditional food, try Jein Hpaw Thu restaurant, down on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River. Pounded beef curry with tasty and aromatic seasoning, oily traditional curry with vegetables, pork salad and biryani (Kachin danpauk) with vegetables and chicken are my favourites. The food is healthy as well as tasty, a far cry from the flash-fried samosas that dominate Yangon’s city streets. You can also try kaung yee sapi if you like food that makes your head spin.
What to drink: The local distilled liquor tsa pi is created from fermented sticky rice. Light and not too strong, the beverage is a favourite among women, especially those seeking to put noisy children to a swift sleep. For stronger libations, try the lau khu, which is also made from sticky rice. No matter how much you drink, you can get up early and go to work the next morning. This
Where to go: Myitkyina, amid its waterfalls and crags, is heaven for trekkers. The best sights can be seen an hour’s walk from the city, less if you go out by motorbike. The water in the lakes and the falls is ice-cold.
For scenery, take a trip to the prayer mount at Jaw Bum, about 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of town. At the foot of the hill is an old cemetery filled with white gravestones, where Kachin patriot leaders such as KIA General Lazing Ganaw Bawk have been laid to rest. From the top of the mountain, you command a view of the city and its surroundings to beat all others.
If trying to stay closer to town, try out Manaw Kwin, the Manaw festival grounds by the river.
The clear air will drive away the last vestiges of fumes for those who have come from Yangon.
You can see traditional houses and Manaw poles decorated in colourful motifs. If you start early enough, you can still make it in time to enjoy sunrise at Bala Min Din Bridge in Mankhane ward.
Later, you can take a picnic by Aung Myin Thar Creek as it wanders through the mountains. The local residents catch fish straight from the creek and roast or steam them in bamboo cages. If you don’t want to cook, any restaurant will sell you something to take away.
If all that sounds too outdoorsy for you, don’t worry: There’s plenty of shopping to be done. Vendors at the gemstone market selling amber will give you a warm welcome, and shops full of colourful Kachin garments with their characteristic designs can entertain a shopper for hours. – Translation by San Layy and Thiri Min Htun
Raging waterfalls can be found in the jungles.
Fried bees – yes, bumblebees – are just one of the many unique Kachin dishes to be found in Myitkyina.