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Over the Speakers


Commercializing the Counterculture: How the Summer Music Festival Went Mainstream

With painted Volkswagen buses, talk of “free love,” and other reminders of the Woodstock era replaced by advertising and corporate sponsorships, hippie culture may be dying, but a new subculture—a sort of purgatory between hipster and hippie—is on the rise.

Over the Speakers


A Tale of 2 Cultures: We Live in a Stadium, but Need a Sanctuary

We need not only to attend events but also to take the time to attend to what happens and reflect on those events in the moment.

Conference Call


3 Conferences Taking Place in July and August That Are Worth Attending

From “The Wisdom of Music” to “The Human and Animal Bond,” academic gatherings you should be aware of.

The Worst Week


The Worst Singer in the World

Her given first name was Narcissa, she lost her hair due to mercury treatments, and she did not possess what even the most generous person might call a “good voice.” But none of that kept Florence Foster Jenkins from getting on stage and singing her way to Carnegie Hall.

Quick Studies


How to Bounce Your Way Into a Baby’s Heart

Babies provide more help to adults who bounce in-sync with them along to music.



More Evidence That Music Talent Is Largely Innate

New research on twins finds nature and nurture interact to produce accomplished musicians. A second study suggests chimps might be among their fans.



New Evidence of Mental Benefits From Music Training

Harvard-based researchers find a link between early musical training and cognitive capacities that allow for planned, controlled behavior.

World Cup Week


Why Are the Official World Cup Songs So Terrible?

It’s not easy to make a pop song that appeals to the entire world.



High School Music Classes Remain Popular, but Hispanics Lag Behind

New research finds that, contrary to fears, the No Child Left Behind act had little impact on enrollment in music courses.

Shelf Help


Shelf Help: New Book Reviews in 100 Words or Less

What you need to know about Addiction by Design, The Big Fix, and The Dylanologists.

What Is Cool?


Taking From Hip-Hop and Giving to White Kids: Girl Talk’s Music Comes Full Circle

The DJ, whose mixes of rap and pop music crossed some racial and ethical lines, is now making his own hip-hop.

Quick Studies


What Kind of Beat Makes You Want to Groove?

The science behind the rhythms that get you on the dance floor.



When Things Look Dark, Country Music Gets Sunnier

New research finds socioeconomic conditions impact the type of songs that become hits, but in opposite ways for pop and country music.

The 30 Top Thinkers Under 30


The 30 Top Thinkers Under 30: The Multi-Instrumentalist Who Wants to Understand Why People Make Music

For the month of April we’re profiling the individuals who made our inaugural list of the 30 top thinkers under 30, the young men and women we predict will have a serious impact on the social, political, and economic issues we cover every day here at Pacific Standard.



Study Casts Doubt on Superiority of Stradivarius Violins

Researchers find top-ranked musicians can’t distinguish the sound of a Strad—and often prefer newer instruments.

What Is Cool?


Future Islands, Emo, and How Honesty Became Cool

Or: Earnestness is the new black.

This Is Your Brain


Kicking Methadone With Johnny Winter

How sleight-of-hand—and obsessive-compulsive disorder—helped the guitarist shake 30 years of addiction.

Culture Essays


Swedish Pop Mafia

How a culturally conservative effort in the 1940s backfired to create the greatest engine of pop music in the world.

Quick Studies


Do We See Good Music Better Than We Hear It?

Listening may not be the best way to judge an orchestra’s chops.

Over the Speakers


Music Is Power: Michael Dunn, Jordan Davis, and How We Respond When People Turn Up the Volume

Second-hand sound can profoundly affect our social interactions and our interior lives.

Over the Speakers


Why We Should Stop Singing ‘Happy Birthday’

While it might be the most-sung song in the world, “Happy Birthday” was created for children and is currently mired in an ugly copyright dispute. It’s time to put an end to the awkward tradition.

Quick Studies


Is Music a Language?

If not, why can we use it to communicate?

You Don't Know America


I Listen to Everything, Except Rap and Country Music

While the two branches of music might appear to have nothing in common, they rose to pop-culture establishment in very similar ways. Today, they share the same songs and the same stage.

Over the Speakers


Fearing Hip-Hop: The Decline of the White Conscience

Overheated Beltway cranks and the blood on their hands.

This Is Your Brain


The Sounds of Your Sleep

Do you know anyone who actually falls asleep to pre-recorded crickets or rain drops? Sleep studies can’t even agree on the proper lullaby.

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NASA Could Build Entire Spacecrafts in Space Using 3-D Printers

This year NASA will experiment with 3-D printing small objects in space. That could mark the beginning of a gravity-free manufacturing revolution.

The Most Popular Ways to Share Good and Bad Personal News

Researchers rank the popularity of all of the different methods we have for telling people about our lives, from Facebook to face-to-face.

Do Not Tell Your Kids That Eating Vegetables Will Make Them Stronger

Instead, hand them over in silence. Or, market them as the most delicious snack known to mankind.

The West’s Groundwater Is Being Sucked Dry

Scientists were stunned to discover just how much groundwater has been lost from beneath the Colorado River over the past 10 years.

How Wildlife Declines Are Leading to Slavery and Terrorism

As wildlife numbers dwindle, wildlife crimes are rising—and that's fueling a raft of heinous crimes committed against humans.

The Big One

One in two full-time American fast-food workers' families are enrolled in public assistance programs, at a cost of $7 billion per year. July/August 2014

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