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19/4 time


The most common time signatures in music are 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4. Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond famously recorded Take Five in 5/4 time, but another jazz icon named Don Ellis took time signature experiments to a new level.

First scream

Sheb Wooley

The Wilhelm scream is a sound effect that has been used in hundreds of films, including Disney, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars films. But who was Wilhelm? And why was he screaming?

Long note


Malagueña Salerosa is a Mexican Son Huasteco song covered hundreds of times (including versions by Plácido Domingo, José Feliciano, and Avenged Sevenfold). It’s also a challenge: how long can a singer sustain a single note?

Grunge speak


In 1992, an earnest New York Times reporter asked Megan Jasper, a former receptionist for Sub-Pop Records, for slang used by the nascent grunge scene. There was no such slang… so she made it up. And they printed it.

Short hand

Guidonian Hand

The hand is a flexible and convenient mnemonic device. The knuckle mnemonic tells us the number of days in a month, but a musical mnemomic called the Guidonian hand has been around for eight hundred years.