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Music, Language and Your Brain

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” He was more right than he knew. New studies are showing that the brain does in fact treat music as a language. Read more

lullabies from around the world

12 Nightmarish Lullabies From Around the World

Mothers everywhere sing babies to soothe them to sleep. But the songs we sing are sometimes less than comforting. Consider, for example, the first verse of Rockabye Baby, which ends with a baby falling out of a tree.

Like the original versions of most fairy tales, there’s a dark undercurrent in a quite a few of the traditional songs we sing to our children. And the urge to soothe babies with creepy songs is apparently found almost everywhere. Need proof? Here are 12 sweet-sounding but nightmarish lullabies from around the world.

Nightmarish Lullabies from Around the World: Iceland

When it comes to creepy lullabies, Iceland may take the prize. Here are 2 examples:

Bíum, Bíum, Bambalóu


The scene described here would make an excellent opening for a horror movie. Here’s an English translation:

Bíum bíum bambalo/Bambaló og dillidillidó/My little friend I lull to rest/ But outside, a face looms at the window.

Read more

Who Should Win This Sign Language Rap Battle?

Jimmy Kimmel may have made history on Tuesday, when he hosted what was billed as the “first ever (probably last ever) sign language rap battle” on his show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!

A sign language rap battle? How does that work?

Kimmel invited three of the most well-known and experienced live music American Sign Language interpreters to interpret for his audience. Holly Maniatty, Joann Benfield and Amber Galloway Gallego have interpreted for a long list of musical performers including Eminem, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne and Snoop.

The interpreters took turns interpreting a live performance of “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa.

ASL interpreting at concerts has grown in visibility over the past few years, fueled in part by videos of the interpreters enthusiastically performing for their audience.  Their interpretations have captured the attention of hearing and deaf fans alike, and of the artists themselves. In 2013, rapper Killer Mike told Slate the way Holly Maniatty interprets is “[A}n art form; that’s more than just a technical skill.” Watch the video, and you’ll see why.

Another great moment in ASL interpreting came after the rap battle. Asked if he usually has a sign language interpreter onstage, Khalifa responded “Yeah, sometimes I get like pretty stoned, I can’t remember the words.” As it turns out, you don’t have to know ASL to understand the sign for “marijuana.” To quote Holly Maniatty, “It’s pretty universal.”

After the performance, the rapper was assigned the difficult task of choosing a winner. He took the easy way out and chose all three.  Who do you think should have won?

New Manx Language Album Released

Once thought to be extinct, the Manx language has been making a striking comeback. In fact, a new music album has just been released in the language. The album, Sheear, comes from Manx folk singer Ruth Keggin. Read more

Fancy an iTunes Gift Card?

Because March was the month of the Rio Carnival, we organised a special competition to celebrate it. As today is the last day of March, the competition will end tonight at midnight.

Our readers are important to us and that’s why we want to give you the opportunity to enter the competition as well.

Get in the party spirit with some great music by entering our exclusive draw to win 2 iTunes gift cards worth £25 each.

[This competition is now closed]

Good Luck!

ps: spread the word…

Try your luck…

10 Amazing Sign Language Music Videos

Sign language interpretations of music used to hard to find. Fortunately, that’s changed over the past few years. More and more musicians have sign language interpreters performing at their events. Deaf artists are harnessing the power of Youtube to share their own sign language music videos of their favourite songs, and even musicians who can hear are using the expressive power of sign language in music videos.

Want to see for yourself? Here are ten fantastic sign language music videos!

Please note: When we describe these videos as amazing, awesome, or cool, we’re not trying to trivialise sign language. We think all languages are cool (and deserving of respect). If you appreciate the artistry in these videos, take a moment to learn about the problems Deaf people still face when it comes to day-to-day communication. 

Sia- Soon We’ll Be Found

 

In this video, Australian singer-songwriter Sia signs the lyrics to the song in ASL as she sings. Throughout the video, her hands signing the words appear as shadow puppets, or covered paint, or glowing in the dark – it’s trippy, beautiful and a great way to showcase ASL. (However, it seems like the special effects might make it harder for Deaf viewers to understand her signs in a few parts of the video.).

Pharrell- Happy in ASL

If this ASL version of Pharrell’s “Happy” produced by Deaf students and staff at Deaf Film camp doesn’t make you smile, consider professional help.

Lamb of God’s “Ruin”

This is the latest sign language music video to go viral. Watch as the interpreter breaks out her best metal face to translate Lamb of God’s “Ruin.”

Sign Language Rap Battle with Whiz Khalifa

In 2014, Jimmy Kimmel hosted a “sign language rap battle.” Three popular American sign language interpreters face off, interpreting Whiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” as Whiz himself performs. Although Whiz does not clean up the lyrics, ABC did censor them, so it’s still safe for work, and a lot of fun to watch.

I should note that this video is somewhat controversial amongst the Deaf community because 2 out of 3 of the interpreters are hearing.

Rosa Lee Timm-  What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Rosa Lee Timm is a Deaf performance artist who specialises in music videos and comedy. This ASL interpretation of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” is one of her most popular videos, and for a good reason.

Rosa Lee Timm (and Sherry Hicks)- Uptown Funk

This ASL interpretation of Bruno Mars’  “Uptown Funk” is just incredibly fun to watch.

Pearl Jam- Given to Fly

During a tour in 2000, Eddie Vedder noticed ASL interpreter Kimberly Rae Schaefer and brought her up to share the spotlight for “Given to Fly.” I wish this video focused more on her and less on Eddie Vedder, but it’s still a sweet moment.

Keith Urban Rocking Out with ASL  Interpreter

In this video, from the Jazz Music Festival in Snowmass, Keith Urban performs a duet with the ASL interpreter.  So, she gets to share centre stage instead of being off to the side. One caveat: the audio quality for this video is poor.

Tommy Krångh, the 2015 Eurovision Interpreter


Swedish song language interpreter Tommy Krångh became an overnight sensation in 2015 when he signed for Sweden’s Eurovision finalist competition. This brief clip from the Guardian shows why.

DEAFinitely Dope- No sleep by Whiz Khalifa

This video of DEAFinitely Dope’s Matt Maxey interpreting Whiz Khalifa’s “No Sleep” with an unnamed female friend is infectious and adorable, and the lyrics are uncensored. So, if you click the link, be aware that you will encounter numerous curse words in both English and ASL.

What Does the Fox Say? in ASL

At this point, we know what you’re probably wondering: What does the fox say in sign language? Let the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind attempt to answer that question for you.

As noted above, it’s great to see sign language getting more attention. However, if the only experience you have with sign language is a viral video, you’re not seeing the full picture of the accessibility difficulties faced by the Deaf community. Like all languages, sign languages are both an art form and a means of communication. Thanks to the internet and the increasing popularity of sign language music interpreters, sign language as an art form is more accessible than ever. But when it comes to being able to communicate on a practical, day-to-day level, access is still limited.

If you’d like to make your information more accessible to the Deaf community, we can help.  We offer sign language interpreter services throughout the UK. As you might expect, our interpreting services are primarily in BSL, but if you need another type of sign language, please let us know when you order and we’ll try to accommodate.  We can also provide you with sign language video services and speech-to-text reporting.  For more information, please contact us. 

The founder of Marshall Amplification, Dr Jim Marshall OBE, has died aged 88.

Fifty years ago a new guitar sound was born. Jim Marshall, a drum retailer began building amplifiers in the early 1960s. He set out to create a new valve guitar amplifier and after several prototypes hit upon ‘the Marshall sound’. The rest, as they say, is history.

The familiar Marshall logo is one of the most iconic names in music, gracing thousands of stages across the globe from small pub venues to huge arenas. Although widely used in jazz, blues and country music, Marshall is more associated with the sound of rock and endorsed by countless guitar legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Joe Bonamassa, Ritchie Blackmore, Pete Townsend, Jimi Page and Slash. Jim Marshall invented the ‘Rock’ sound.  Read more

Learning a New Language? Sing Along!

Are you looking for a way to get an edge on your foreign language studies? New research from the University of Edinburg suggests that, as with many of life’s challenges, music is the answer.

In the study, groups of test subjects were introduced to a selection of words and short phrases in Hungarian, which was chosen because it is so different from English and from Romance languages like French and Spanish. Some groups  simply repeated the phrases back, some repeated them back “rhythmically” without singing (imagine a bunch of Scottish students “rapping” in Hungarian!) while others sang them. Later, they were tested on their knowledge of the phrases. The group that sang knocked the other groups out of the water on four out of five of the tests. Read more

British or American Rock Music?

Rock Music was born in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It is a combination of Blues, Gospel, Jazz and Country music.

Historically, the first rock success came basically from American singers such as Muddy Watters, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly. According to the Library of Congress,

“American rock and roll music was imitated by British groups, who then refined it and, in the view of some, improved it.”

Even if Rock Music was born in United States, musicians like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker introduced the Blues in England. Since the birth of rock music, American and British bands reciprocally influenced and grew up together.

The 60’s were the period named the British Invasion with groups like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. It cannot be denied that The Beatles led to rock music development around the world. Who doesn’t know one Beatles song at least?! Read more