Thursday, February 06, 2020

Ivory Tower [I've been singing again]

I caught a cold and didn't come around to record a new physics video this week. Instead I finished a song that I wrote some weeks ago. Enjoy!


  1. Hi Sabine, I really enjoyed the dark feel of the music in this one, especially that little (harpsichordy/clavinety) melody line rolling underneath the verse vocals. And I also liked the power strings in the chorus.

    Were you lip-syncing this for the camera, or was that the actual take of the vocals in real time?

    This is not a criticism, because it is certainly good as it is, but the old recording engineer in me wishes you would have double-tracked (or even triple-tracked) the first line of the chorus: “We have no place for cowards,” and then the same for: “How can they fail to see.” -- Again, not that it isn’t good as it is, but just to give the chorus a little more power and emphasis (maybe even boost the reverb on those beefed-up chorus vocals to set them in a grander feeling space).

    And lastly, as many song writers often draw upon their own personal experiences for inspiration, did something happen in your professional life to inspire this song?

    And if so, are we allowed to speculate that it was YOU who won the debate and inherited the professor’s office? (Ha)


    1. Hi Keith,

      Thanks for the feedback. No, this is not an actual recording. I do my audio recordings in the basement in a dark and foam-padded corner. In the room you see above with the green screen I do my video recordings because it has natural light. Alas, it has too much echo (as you may have heard in my other videos). So it's lip synched. But it's the actual microphone that I presently use and it's pretty much how I sing. I usually have the mic a little higher but then it would have been in front of my face which looked stupid in the video.

      The second chorus has 4 layers, one with extra echo and two with harmonics. The third chorus has an extra echo plus a left-right panned track. I sometimes use an entirely different reverb for the chorus but not in this case as I already had a very generous chorus and delay on the verses.

      I find it difficult to overlay tracks with much vibrato. It works fine on a solo-track, but since the phases never match it just sounds like crap if you overlay it.

      Well, yes, I could name a few professors who would fit to the description in that song. Though I don't think any one of them indeed had an office at the end of a corridor, that's just a line which fell out of my mouth.

      And, no, I have a small and unremarkable office next to the kitchen to which I was moved after I refused to share the larger office, that I originally had, with someone else.

      Best regards,


  2. Whenever I hear somebody going on about position and posterity I think of this from Bladerunner, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe: attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those... moments... will be lost... in time, like... tears... in rain"

  3. Beautiful song. Yes: we have a sad passion for ourselves which, if we are not careful, can become a prison

  4. The flu must be going around in Europe just like here in North America. I caught it 3 weeks ago, the worst of it lasting 2 days. Drinking mango, pineapple, and carrots, blended into smoothies might have shortened its duration.

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for thinking of me but I'm pretty sure it's not the flu. Just a nasty little cold with a lot of coughing and sneezing. Feeling better already today. Though mango with pineapple and carrots sounds good in any case :) Best,


  5. Sabine, your writings, videos and humorous songs such as this one will do more to dislodge Physics from it's mind fog than anything out there, in my opinion. I have read Smolin and Woit's books along with others,but your book still provides the best explanation I have seen for why we are stuck in Physics (because we are Lost In Math!). Brilliant!

  6. Your song describes quite a frustrating situation in science. Scientists are often seen as meticulous and impartial individuals solely devoted to their study and the search for scientific truth.
    The situation you describe is the opposite. Many scientists are egocentric. They do not pay attention to ideas, others than their own. They adhere to prevailing paradigms. The one that dares to raise doubts on a paradigm is outcasted from the scientific community.
    But this was the situation along with history. In 1600 Giordano Bruno was burned at stake by the priests of the Catholic Church because he claimed that the universe was infinite and populated with many worlds. Today this idea is very common. In 2019 the Noble prize went to scientists for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.
    Now the situation is the same except that the priests of the Scientific Church replace the priests of the Catholic Church. I think that you are brave and certainly have a place in the ivory tower. Please go on with your work.


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