“Four musicians from Prague”

Praga, Carol Bridge (fot. Gosia Sachse)

We know very well that music works on us. It can put you in a good mood and lead to tears, calm you down or act on your nerves. But it not only resonates with our mood. It is also an “amplifier” of the message in films, advertisements, etc.

Researchers from the University of Southern California have decided to check out what makes music work for us like this and not differently. They used machine learning.

A prelude to artificial intelligence

It started with collecting material for testing. Scientists needed songs – sad and cheerful. To do so, they searched online music services and discussion forums to find songs marked “sad” and “cheerful” or their synonyms. They wanted to reduce the likelihood that the participants of the survey knew the songs earlier, so they decided to pick out niche songs with a small number of plays from the web.

Score of emotion

The songs were presented to a group of 100 people. Some of the participants were connected to the apparatus testing brain activity, others had their pulse and skin conduction tested (dermal-galvanic reaction – testing changes in skin electrical resistance under the influence of sweat).

Additionally, the songs were analyzed second by second for 74 properties like dynamics, timbre, harmony and rhythm.

All these data were used to train machine learning models. Their task was to find the relationship between the content of the work and the physiological response of the body, and more precisely to determine which of the several dozen properties should be observed to predict the reaction of the body. This would allow to predict how a given piece of work will affect the person who listens to it.

It turned out, for example, that the tone (i.e. the intensity of medium and high frequencies), volume and clarity of rhythm in sad songs affect brain activity. Hue, complexity, clarity of rhythm and predictability of tone are correlated with heart rate changes.

Solo on the listener

Researchers hope that their work in the future will allow them to create powerful models of machine learning capable of predicting how a piece of music will affect our psyche and what reactions it will cause in our body. Practical applications? Music composed with a specific listener in mind, tailored to his or her liking, music suggestively evoking specific emotions, and finally music as a support for psychotherapy.

(Quelle: https://www.sztucznainteligencja.org.pl/)


Let’s support street virtuosos who often delight us with their work. Thanks to them, among others, the world is not so bad. In memory of Genek Loska (*08.01.1975 – † 09.09.2020).

Genek Loska (Pińczów 2013). Quelle: Wikipedia

A short biography of Genek can be found under the link below:


“A harper”

DSCF8579.JPGSalzburg, Austria (Photo: Gosia Glowacka, 28.06.2014)

The harp is a stringed musical instrument that has a number of individual strings running at an angle to its soundboard; the strings are plucked with the fingers. Harps have been known since antiquity in Asia, Africa and Europe, dating back at least as early as 3500 BCE. The instrument had great popularity in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, where it evolved into a wide range of variants with new technologies, and was disseminated to Europe’s colonies, finding particular popularity in Latin America. Although some ancient members of the harp family died out in the Near East and South Asia, descendants of early harps are still played in Myanmar and parts of Africa, and other defunct variants in Europe and Asia have been utilized by musicians in the modern era.

Harps vary globally in many ways. In terms of size, many smaller harps can be played on the lap, whereas larger harps are quite heavy and rest on the floor. Different harps may use strings of catgut, nylon, metal, or some combination. While all harps have a neck, resonator, and strings, frame harps have a pillar at their long end to support the strings, while open harps, such as arch harps and bow harps, do not. Modern harps also vary in techniques used to extend the range and chromaticism (e.g., adding sharps and flats) of the strings, such as adjusting a string’s note mid-performance with levers or pedals which modify the pitch. The pedal harp is a standard instrument in the orchestra of the Romantic music era (ca. 1800–1910) and the contemporary music era.

(Source: Wikipedia)

“Song for Barcelona”

The Park Güell, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain (Photo: Gosia Głowacka, 07.05.2012)

The Park Güell (Catalan: Parc Güell is a public park system composed of gardens and architectonic elements located on Carmel Hill, in Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain)

Walking through the alleys in park almost every dozen or some hundreds meters you can meet artists of all kinds of art: painters, caricaturists, mimes, or finally – those that catch my attention and steal my soul and time – viruosos of musical instruments. Some of them perform their show on instruments well known e.g. guitar or violin, but there are also grandmasters of instruments that are not very common, and the sounds coming out of them do not let you pass beside them without interests. The music they present does not have language, color, religion or nationality – it is created by street virtuosos for all. There are no divisions in “we” and “they”, “better” and “worse”, “rich” and “poor.” It is created by young and old passionates, playing their instruments.


Barcelona will forever be associated with the music of Park Güell, delicious Sangria which is drinking in the evening at the beach and cheerful, smiling people and none of terrorists is able to change it.

“Guitar player”

holiday in Spain 055.JPGFigures, Museum of Salvador Dalli, Spain (Photo: Gosia Glowacka, 11.05.2012)

Where you hear the song go there,
there they have warm hearts
bad people believe me,
They never sing.

— J.W.Goethe

Ever since I was young, guitar was the instrument that fascinated me the most. At first the dream of playing the guitar was merely a dream because of financial limitations and living a considerable distance from the nearest music schools. However, a few years later, in high school I became a scout. I loved those trips out to the mountains, Wyzyna Krakowsko-Czestochowska, and the longer or shorter camps where other scouts “were plucking strings” till 4:00 A.M. in the rhythm of shanties and songs of the music band “Old Good Marriage”! Driven by  my pure love for the guitar I finally purchased my own – a beautiful resonance box & acoustic guitar, which I still have. However, over the years the amount of duties increased, while the amount of free time decreased, and my dream and childish enthusiasm to become a virtuoso in the instrument seemed less and less… .Sentimental sounds of the guitar, however, still lies deep inside me. Listening to the guitar reminds me of pastures in Bieszczady, Szlak Orlich Gniazd, hiking from Ustrzyki Dolne to Zakopane, with all those beautiful starry nights by the fire … Maybe the next rising young generation some day might ask me: “Mom, how did the ‘Majster Bieda’ sound? ” And we will sing together all night while playing the guitar…


holiday in Spain 054.JPG Salvador Dali Museum, Figures,Spain (Photo: Gosia Głowacka, 11.05.2012)

The saxophone (also referred to as the sax) is a family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet.The saxophone family was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1840. Adolphe Sax wanted to create a group or series of instruments that would be the most powerful and vocal of the woodwinds, and the most adaptive of the brass instruments, that would fill the vacant middle ground between the two sections. He patented the saxophone on June 28, 1846, in two groups of seven instruments each. Each series consisted of instruments of various sizes in alternating transposition. The series pitched in B♭ and E♭, designed for military bands, have proved extremely popular and most saxophones encountered today are from this series. Instruments from the so-called “orchestral” series, pitched in C and F, never gained a foothold, and the B♭ and E♭ instruments have now replaced the C and F instruments when the saxophone is used in an orchestra.

The saxophone is used in classical music (such as concert bands, chamber music, and solo repertoires), military bands, marching bands, and jazz (such as big bands and jazz combos). Saxophone players are called saxophonists.

The saxophone was developed in 1846 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian instrument maker, flautist, and clarinetist. Born in Dinant and originally based in Brussels, he moved to Paris in 1842 to establish his musical instrument business. Prior to his work on the saxophone, he had made several improvements to the bass clarinet by improving its keywork and acoustics and extending its lower range. Sax was also a maker of the then-popular ophicleide, a large conical brass instrument in the bass register with keys similar to a woodwind instrument. His experience with these two instruments allowed him to develop the skills and technologies needed to make the first saxophones. As an outgrowth of his work improving the bass clarinet, Sax began developing an instrument with the projection of a brass instrument and the agility of a woodwind. He wanted it to overblow at the octave, unlike the clarinet, which rises in pitch by a twelfth when overblown. An instrument that overblows at the octave, has identical fingering for both registers.

Sax created an instrument with a single-reed mouthpiece like a clarinet, conical brass body like an ophicleide, and some acoustic properties of both the horn and the clarinet.[clarification needed]

Having constructed saxophones in several sizes in the early 1840s, Sax applied for, and received, a 15-year patent for the instrument on June 28, 1846. The patent encompassed 14 versions of the fundamental design, split into two categories of seven instruments each, and ranging from sopranino to contrabass. Although the instruments transposed at either F or C have been considered “orchestral”, there is no evidence that Sax intended this. As only three percent of Sax’s surviving production were pitched in F and C, and as contemporary composers used the E♭ alto and B♭ bass saxophone freely in orchestral music, it is almost certain that Sax experimented to find the most suitable keys for these instruments, settling upon instruments alternating between E♭ and B♭ rather than those pitched in F or C, for reasons of tone and economy (the saxophones were the most expensive wind instruments of their day). The C soprano saxophone was the only instrument to sound at concert pitch. All the instruments were given an initial written range from the B below the treble staff to the F, one space above the three ledger lines above staff, giving each saxophone a range of two and a half octaves.

Sax’s patent expired in 1866; thereafter, numerous saxophonists and instrument manufacturers implemented their own improvements to the design and keywork. The first substantial modification was by a French manufacturer who extended the bell slightly and added an extra key to extend the range downwards by one semitone to B♭. It is suspected that Sax himself may have attempted this modification. This extension is now commonplace in almost all modern designs, along with other minor changes such as added keys for alternate fingerings. Using alternate fingerings allows a player to play faster and more easily. A player may also use alternate fingerings to bend the pitch. Some of the alternate fingerings are good for trilling, scales, and big interval jumps.

Sax’s original keywork, which was based on the Triebert system 3 oboe for the left hand and the Boehm clarinet for the right, was simplistic and made playing some legato passages and wide intervals extremely difficult to finger, so numerous developers added extra keys and alternate fingerings to make chromatic playing less difficult. While early saxophones had two separate octave vents to assist in the playing of the upper registers just as modern instruments do, players of Sax’s original design had to operate these via two separate octave keys operated by the left thumb. A substantial advancement in saxophone keywork was the development of a method by which the left thumb operates both tone holes with a single octave key, which is now universal on modern saxophones. Further developments were made by Selmer in the 1930s and ’40s, including offsetting tone holes and a revamping of the octave key mechanism, beginning with balanced action instruments and continuing through their celebrated Mark VI line.[citation needed] One of the most radical, however temporary, revisions of saxophone keywork was made in the 1950s by M. Houvenaghel of Paris, who completely redeveloped the mechanics of the system to allow a number of notes (C♯, B, A, G, F and E♭) to be flattened by a semitone simply by pressing the right middle finger. This enables a chromatic scale to be played over two octaves simply by playing the diatonic scale combined with alternately raising and lowering this one digit. However, this keywork never gained much popularity, and is no longer in use.

(source: Wikipedia)


Found online:

`Saxophone, tube, trumpet exist as wind instruments,
and men, women – people often are called thick-headed ‘instruments’ .

(by paradoxical on https://szukaj.cytaty.info/mysli/instrumenty.htm on 14.10.2010)


Gosia in China 1 176DSC_0461Humble Administrator’s Garden (Chinese: 拙政园; pinyin: Zhuōzhèng yuán), Suzhou, China (Photo: Gosia Głowacka, April 2013)

During my first trip to China I put on my “to do” list the Humble Administrator’s Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage object – one of the most famous gardens in Suzhou. After admiring the beautiful thumbnail trees, the stunning appearance, the smell of flowers and the singing birds which allow one to forget about all the hardships of the day, as the culmination point of these unique aesthetic experiences, somewhere in the distance a singing voice and gentle sounds of a stringed instrument could be heard. Guided by the voice I reached a small lake located in the western part of the garden, and … time has stopped … There was only this Chinese girl singing traditional Chinese songs and accompanying herself on the Chinese lute (called Pipa)


The pipa (Chinese: 琵琶; pinyin: pípa, [pʰǐpʰǎ]) is a four-stringed Chinese musical instrument, belonging to the plucked category of instruments. Sometimes called the Chinese lute, the instrument has a pear-shaped wooden body with a varying number of frets ranging from 12 to 26. Another Chinese four-string plucked lute is the liuqin, which looks like a smaller version of the pipa.

The pipa is one of the most popular Chinese instruments and has been played for almost two thousand years in China. (source: Wikipedia)


“Opera on demand”

MysterySinger1Performance Artist: Anna Samborska (artistic nickname: Bernal Opera), Hunters Point, San Francisco, USA (Photo: Charles Leonard, 18.10. 2015)

The happening “Opera on Demand” was performed by Anna Samborska, surrounded by a mysterious aura, since she was not well known at the time of the performance, which lasted 7 hours. During this time 21 arias including Tosca, Carmen, Queen of the Night, Brunhilda (Wagner), Lucia di Lammermoor and Pat Nixon’s aria from the opera Nixon in China (John Adams) were sung on the request of the audience. The location was the shipyard buildung on the naval base Hunters Point during the Open Days (Open Studios). The place turned out to be perfect because of the acoustics, informal atmosphere, quiet flow of visitors, the possibility of direct interaction and lack of pressure to sell anything. Most people treated the figure in red as an installation, but many asked for their favorite arias or wanted the artist to choose something for them. It was given the impression that for many it was a unique experience.

The figure in red is the symbol of art which thrives in Hunters Point – the largest artist community in the world. It has over 200 art studios of both professional and amateur artists of various fields. The artist has been there since 2002.

_____________________________________________________________________   Anna Samborska explores many creative fields: visual arts, installation and photography.  As the founder of Bernal Opera she performs in house concerts, street concerts and also leads vocal workshops.  She lives in Bernal Heights, a neighborhood in San Francisco. She is also an author, writer and translator..

Bernal Opera blog: www.bernalopera.wordpress.com www.annasamborska.com.