Because it’s Friday: All I want for Christmas

December 25, 2015

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

On this Christmas Day, allow me to share a couple of interesting takes on Mariah Carey's modern Christmas classic, All I Want for Christmas is You. (Unlike most pop songs, Carey wrote the melody and lyrics herself.) If you've somehow managed to avoid hearing the song over the past decade, here it is lip-synced in 2011 by the Royal Navy crew of HMS Ocean:


The Mariah Carey version of the song is arranged in the key of G major, but has a very different feeling when sung in a minor key, as done here by Chase Holfelder:


Now, if you're like me and have had no musical training and couldn't tell a minor key from a house key, I thoughly recommend seeking out the 1968 Isaac Asimov essay, "Music to my ears" (it's included in this anthology), an excellent explainer for the non-musical types like me. You might also be interested in the mathematics behind musical scales

And finally, can you hear Mariah Carey's voice in the background automatically-generated MIDI conversion of the song?


If you can: congratulations! It means you've heard the actual song often enough that your brain is generating an auditory hallucination of her voice. The only thing you're actually hearing is synthetic piano keys.

That's all from us this week. If you're celebrating, Merry Christmas! (Or your local equivalent as seen below, with thanks to Christophe Cariou and R.) We'll be back on Monday — enjoy!

Christmas in languages

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