Complex information put to music

February 15, 2009 — 6 Comments

Since your first day of kindergarten when you sang your “ABC’s” educators have used music to teach the otherwise boring lists, numbers, patterns and history of our world and universe.  I don’t know if it is actually easier to memorize when put to music or simply more rewarding so you try harder – after all, it is very impressive to name all 192 odd countries in the world in 60 seconds to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance (see number 5).

#1 The periodic table

I would love to be able to memorize this song, but even I’m not that big of a geek.

 

#2 The Pi Song

This could have been horrible if it was not sung so well. This is another song I have little interest in actually learning but its always fun to know PI to at least 10 places…just incase.  

#3 The Universe Song – Monty Python

I really love this song and sing it all time to remember how big the universe really is. This version is sang by Clint Black (I am from Texas you know, plus the original lacks such quality visuals).

 

#4 The Universe…Again

A catchy tune and inspiring version, but since it lacks the numeric information of the Monty Python version it will always live in its shadow.

 

#5 The Nations of the World

This is one of my favorites. I have the first 2 sections memorized, but I loose it when he gets to Africa. Unfortunately, like most of these songs the information is increasingly out of date. 

 

#6 I am the very model of a modern major-general

While not necessarily conveying a lot of scientific or practical information (that’s kind of the point of the joke), this famous scene for the play the “Pirates of Penzance” does have a lot of historical perspective on what he nerds of the 19th century where talking about. From a time when things like “beings animalcules” (microscopic organisms) were first discovered. The late great science fiction author Isaac Asimov wrote an essay about this song where he identified the meaning behind every strange and forgotten word. If you’re into retro steam punk, you’ll enjoy this vocabulary lesson.

 

I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse

The rest is here: Major General’s Song

#7 Parts of the Brain

#8 All the words in the English Language

A parody of this type of song sang by the animated team that gave so much to this genre.

#9 The 50 US states and their capitols

I’m pretty sure kids use this song in school today to learn the states.

 

#10 US Presidents from Washington to Clinton

 

#11 We didn’t start the fire

Billy Joel rattles through the incredents of live in the 20th century.

#12 Natural Decay

#13 How a bill becomes law – school house

A public service announcment that interrupted every cartoon marathon of my 1980′s youth.

 

#14 Sink the Bismarck

Learn some WW2 history.

#15 The Battle of New Orleans

Get pumped up about the War of 1812 – USA v Britan part 2, the sequel to the revolution.

 

Ben Shoemate

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Ben Shoemate is a web designer and information architect. He cofounded Base22 where he designs and builds corporate intranets, web applications, social networking sites, and web strategies. For fun he does more of the same.
  • http://www.benshoemate.com benshoemate

    A Clint Black version of the “Universe song”:
    <object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/oT7bAuOz8ao&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/oT7bAuOz8ao&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>

  • http://www.cruzatte.com Daniel Slosberg

    Ben,

    It's not the Animaniacs, but here's another great presidents song:

    <http://www.whitehousehistory.org/podcasts/whha_…>

    -Daniel

    • http://www.benshoemate.com benshoemate

      Nice one, and extremely current – even includes Bush and Obama. Thanks for
      the link.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1301660807 Daniel Slosberg

    You're welcome. Forgot to mention that I love your list of songs. I found it because I have a google alert which notifies me if anyone posts anything with content containing both “War of 1812″ and “music.” (Reason for alert: I'm a musician and am working on a show about the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner.)

  • drmarty01

    I'm going to tweet this out. This is great. I'll show my kids. Thanks.

  • drmarty01

    I'm going to tweet this out. This is great. I'll show my kids. Thanks.