Thursday, February 26, 2009

Usability and Frame of Reference, or "Dude, I'm Not In Your Head"

A musical friend of mine sent me an e-mail with a reference to the following site:

with the following amusing description:

...for a few of you musical pals of mine, I was just browsing the Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour home page (a history of that show, just because I loved it), and I came across this fantastic paragraph. Seriously, this is a copy and paste directly from their page. Read on.

The musical phrase utilized for all of the titles of all Bugs Bunny cartoon shorts, the Tweety-and-Sylvester cartoons with them posed on stage and Sylvester holding Tweety in his hand, and most cartoons with characters other than the regulars, went as follows:

"Da-da-da... da-da. Da-da-da... da-da. Da-da-da-da-da-da. Da."

....Music with the tree-oriented title cards of Tweety-and-Sylvester cartoons, all cartoons titled with the semi-circle of Foghorn, Pepe, Speedy, Yosemite Sam, and Elmer, and all Road Runner cartoons, was a variation on the phrase opening the original theatrical Looney Tunes from the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, combined with the closing motif from post-1964 cartoon shorts. First used for cartoons shown on The Road Runner Show, it sounded like this:

"Da. Da-da-da... da-da... da. Da. Da-da-da... da-da-da. DAAA! Da."

Right. So, here's what I get from those musical references:
  1. They are instrumental
  2. A vague indication of note duration.
Here's what I don't get from those phrases:
  1. Meter
  2. Actual note durations
  3. Actual musical pitches
I don't know about you, but I think actual musical pitches are pretty important in, well, music. (My friend said "I can make a case for the first sequence being the Jurrasic Park theme...")

This reminded me that I had seen some time ago a discussion of how to express music using ASCII notation. A search turned up the following:

which refers to Phillip Hazel's music writer:

The idea of communicating many aspects of a language (music) in a relatively primitive medium is academically interesting if not entirely practical.

That said, the real point to the story is: don't assume we all hear the music in your head.

No comments:

Post a Comment