Educator | Performer | Composer | Author

Cool Stuff

Cool Stuff (not necessarily horn-related)

How to Choose and Use Kitchen Knives. We have been using knives in the kitchen for many decades, but until we saw this video, we did not know how to use them properly.

The Code Academy – Learning how to write computer code online tutorial site. Ever been curious what it’s like to write computer code (JavaScript in this case)? Me, too. This site lets you get your feet wet in code in a very painless and easy way.

Stick n Find – This company makes (among other things) a thin, quarter-sized disc that can be attached to almost anything (pet collar, remote control, car keys, your kid (well, their backpack) etc.); then let’s find (track) it (within a 100 foot range) using an iOS or Android app. Never lose that remote again! $50 for 4 stickers. Watch a video demo here.

Lifehacker – We love stuff like this: all kinds of bits of information about all kinds of things. Sample article titles: “Don’t Let Details Get in the Way of Finishing”; “Coding isn’t about commands; it’s about learning concepts”; “Most Popular Business Card Printing Site”; “Turn used coffee grounds into coffee granites”; “Remember people’s names an faces by creating visual hooks for them”; “The best time to buy anything during the year.” And so on. Check out also Lifehacker: Backup site where everybody/anybody can add more tips, trips, shortcuts, etc.

Scientific Illustration for Research Scientists – some amazing ideas and wild photos and graphics here. e.g. A roadway overpass for crabs. Periodic Table of Jazz. Einstein’s US immigration document. How to build a paper model of DNA. Amazing benefits of bananas. 60 foot balloon sculpture. Underwater gunshot (photo). DNA earrings. Monkey-faced orchids.

Amazing Things in the World – like the above Facebook site, but more geographical, with spectacular photos. Water clock in Osaka. Boat made up recycled plastic bottles. Sunset in Antigua (!!). Hanging monastery (China). Rainbow finch. Machu Picchu. Rainbow Rose. Mexican walking fish. Arabian sand cat. Mona Lisa portrait made of 3604 coffee cups. Most beautiful horse in the world. Beautiful beaches. Owls. Kittens. Cars. Craters. Melon art. Hand painting. Skylines. Waterfalls. More beaches.

The Chrysalis Foundation – “supporting a musical Renaissance for the 21st century.” Encouraging the design of new acoustic musical instruments and supporting compositions and performances for these instruments.
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SLR Camera simulator – experiment with settings and see the results, right there online.

The French Horn Hotel & Restaurant in Sonning-on-Thames, Berkshire, UK
30 minutes from Heathrow. Signature dish in the restaurant is “duck, spit-roasted in front of the bar and carved at the table.”

The French Horn – pub. “Built in 1640, the French Horn is a delightful, historic pub in Alton, Hampshire – a town renowned for its brewing heritage. With the help of new chefs and a lot of maintenance, the French Horn has been restored to its former glory and is an ideal eating venue in North East Hampshire, both night and day, seven days a week.” See “French Horn Wins Top 10 Place in Foodie Guide” article.

Hotel Bad Horn (it would be fun to have your picture taken next to the sign…)

Wolfram Tones – general “compositions” online with a click, played back instantly (cheesy synth tones, but what the hey). New click = new composition. You can use the composition controls to affect instrumentation, choice of pitches, tempo, length of tunes, etc. Many styles: classical, dance, rock/pop, country, hiphop, r&b, ambient, jazz, and more.


Dow Piano – audiovisual presentation of the Stock Market in 2010, using a 5-note, 3-octave scale, the note determined by the closing number of the Dow. Notes are clustered in series of 5 (Monday-Friday), backed up by a drum track and separated by drum hits.

Do Nothing for 2 Minutes. Let’s face it: we’re all adrenalin junkies. We do too much, can’t sit still, check our email/Facebook too much, have forgotten how to de-stress, relax, shut down even momentarily the shrill blah blah radio in our heads (this becomes especially important when we’re trying to perform on the horn). This web site shows a lovely photo of the ocean at sunset and challenges you to simply listen to the sound of waves and watch the sunset for 2 minutes without interruption. If you can’t, a red FAIL sign appears. But you can try again. It’s harder to do that it looks. Give it a try.

Eyercize – Online speed reading trainer

The Noun Project – “collects, organizes and adds to the highly recognizable symbols that form the world’s visual language, so that we may share them in a fun and meaningful way.” All symbols (500+) are downloadable and available for unlimited free use.

In Bb 2.0 – Video piece… “Play [i.e. click on the video] these together, some or all, start them at any time, in any order.” Slick. Turn up the sound and play along on your horn…

Labyrinthos – resource center for labyrinths and mazes, photo library and archive. Great site for mazes: amazingart.com.

Bored with the same old links? Need a new way to waste time. Look no further than random internet links generators, e.g.
Random Web Site.com, Random Web Site.net, and Mangle (random websites, personal homepages, pictures, archive).

Along the same lines, you might also try the Fake Name Generator, which not only invents fake names, but throws in a fake address, web site, email address, phone number, birthday, mother’s maiden name, occupation and more.

Gravité from Renaud Hallée on Vimeo.

Better yet is Stumbleupon.com. You sign up, tell them what you’re interested in, and then just click the Stumble button to arrive at a never-ending series of (mostly) interesting web sites that you never heard of, all contributed by users who discovered them and are sharing their finds. A superior, addictive time-waster. Caveat lector.

Wimp.com – “best videos on the web.” Check out the dolphin circle-bubbles video

10 Places to Get a Free Education from the Top-Rated Schools in the World – free online courses from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, etc.

PBS – background and content for all their shows

Ignite – “Enlighten us, but make it quick.” 5 minute videos about all kinds of interesting stuff.

Harry Partch’s Instruments
From Wikipedia: “Harry Partch (1901-1974) was an American composer and instrument builder. He was one of the first twentieth-century composers to work extensively and systematically with microtonal scales, writing much of his music for custom-make instruments he built himself, tuned in 11-limit just intonation.”
This site lets you “play” Harry Partch’s original instruments (using your computer keyboard), such as the Bass Marimba, the Quadrangularus Reversum, The Boo [bamboo marimba], The Cloud Chamber Bowls, the Zymo-Xyl, and the Harmonic Canon (I, II & III). There are also recorded sound clips of the instruments plus clips of Partch describing the instruments and they are made and played. Amazing stuff!

Hornmaker – Not what you think. Joe Becker specializes in custom carved powder horns (i.e cow horns), combs, hair clasps, etc. Links to other makers of custom horn creations.

Classical Music Themes in films, radio & TV

Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the power of the Pentatonic Scale

Odd Music – “Experimental music, unique, unusual, strange, weird musical instruments. Look, listen, explore, participate.”

Resource.ashxRob Jones is a virtuoso woodcarver, who apparently has no limits in what he can carve, including a horn (!!!) – see below. Check out his gallery of carvings, which include perfectly carved facsimiles of a lobster, high heeled shoe, crescent wrench, goblet, Porsche 911, and conch shell. He also does exquisite mandolins, guitars, and banjos. Read an article about him and what he does here.

Orchestra Hero – essay on a concept whose time has come (or so the author would like)

watch-case-openerCool Tools – “cook, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material or website… that are new and wonderful.” Many categories, including computers, design, photography, aural, edibles, dwelling family, culture, health, vehicles, life on earth, play, learning…

Get2Human – Doesn’t it drive you crazy to have to navigate the corporate phone gauntlet of many layers of messages and “Press 2 if you’re….”? This site offers a list of what to press to bypass the endless options and connect with an actual carbon-based life form for many, many businesses.

Internet Yodel Course – “Will make you smile, guaranteed.”

Instructables – “a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others.” If there is any smidgeon of “Do-It-Self”ness in you, this is the place to go to learn from others and to share what you know. Random samples of articles: Make a Pita Pizza in 5 min.; Simple Metalworksing Techniques; Inexpensive Halogen Music Stand Light, Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin Guitar Solo; Cigarette Packet Camera Flash Diffuser; Stuff You Can do with a 55 gal. Drum; How to Get a Free Yacht; Bike Painting Tips; Linoleum Block Printing; Making a Bell Tetrahedral Kite; Volume of a Sphere, and so on.

Everyday Mysteries – The Library of Congress answers questions like: Who invented the toothbrush? Can you tell the temperature by cricket chirps? Why is the ocean blue? How do cats purr? Why don’t spiders get tangled in their own webs? Can you make pets of zebras? How high can the 9-banded armadillo jump? Who invented Christmas lights?

Cheapesttextbooks.com – a terrific idea: a web site that will search the web for the best offers for used college textbooks. The link here will take you to “Art & Music” textbooks – unfortunately mixed together, but if you can wade through it all (or just use the Search funchtion) to find the textbook you’re looking for, you will be offered an array of unbeatable low prices for used textbooks.
Have a look also at TextbookX.com – new and used discount textbooks, general reading, and reference titles. 930,000 titles in stock, average savings of 50% off. Students can also sell used textbooks.
There’s also Chegg.com, where you can actually rent textbooks. If you’re after not just textbooks but any old book, see the article “How to Purchase Books for Less Online.”

Musipedia – “A searchable, editable, and expandable collection of tunes, melodies, and musical themes” inspired by Wikipedia. Have a tune in your head but can’t remember where you heard it? You can enter a series of notes in Musipedia (by online keyboard, contour, sing or whistle it, or put in the rhythm) and it will return suggestions of possible tunes – notated! I put in the beginning of “How Dry I Am” and got back ten pages of possibilities. See also the Wikipedia article on Musipedia.

Classical Music in Movie Soundtracks – Ever wonder what that sort-of-familiar music in the soundtrack of your favorite movie? This is the place to come to find out. See also ClassicalThemes

Online Tuner – Slick online tuner by Seventh String Software. Also downloadable as a zip file.

Online Metronome – Slick online metronome by Seventh String Software. Also downloadable as a zip file.

Stunning (and hilarious) close-up card magic.

Gig After Gas Online Calculator – Enables musicians to calculate travel expenses and compare with pay.

All Brass Band Internet Radio – for fans of British-style brass bands.

100 Essential Web Sites – list by The Guardian

Revival Clothing – missed your true century? This site makes it easy to dress in medieval clothing (including boots, underwear, and accessories). See also The Society for Creative Anachronism

Army Bugle Calls – notated and recorded examples of army bugle calls. More information here.

Blackout Poems – Writer, cartoonist, and designer Austin Kleon creates “poems” by blacking out text in the New York Times – what’s unblacked is the poem.

Master Business Card Thrower

Cartoons by Kliban

Andrew Crawford’s handmade decorative boxes:

The Reactable
“The Reactable is a collaborative electronic music instrument with a tabletop tangible multi-touch interface.” You have to see it to appreciate (and perhaps believe) it:

Musical Illusions and Paradoxes



Quirkology – is a term created by Prof. Richard Wiseman to refer to quirky psychology and experiments, such as the above video. There are more videos at the web site, plus more information on the subject and links to the book on the subject.

Flash Fabrica is compendium of brain teasers, games, and puzzles (example: Test #4 – find out the “age of your brain”). It is in Japanese, but this link is to a sort-of English translation. Fun stuff!!

Phantom Words and Other Curiosities

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