A Map Shows What Every Country in the World Calls Itself in its Own Language: Explore the “Endonyms of the World” Map

I live in South Korea, but the South Koreans don't call it South Korea. The country has its own language, of course, and that language has its own name for the country, daehan minguk (대한 민국), or more commonly hanguk (한국) — not that it stops the global branding-friendly letter K, which has made its way from "K-pop" to "K-beauty" to even (albeit much less successfully) things like "K-food." As far as our much-reported-on northern neighbor, South Koreans call it bukhan (북한), but its inhabitants call their land joseon minjujueui inmin gonghwaguk (조선민주주의인민공화국). And as with Korea South and North, so with every country in the world: each one has an endonym.

"An endonym is the name for a place, site or location in the language of the people who live there. These names may be officially designated by the local government or they may simply be widely used." So says the front page of the Endonym Map, which labels every country (or disputed territory) in the world with its endonym, written in the language's own script.

When you first learned the names of foreign countries, you actually learned their exonyms, their names in a foreign language: yours. "South Korea" and "North Korea" are exonyms, as are names like "Japan," "Finland," "Turkey," and "France." Nihon-koku (日本国), Suomen tasavaltaTürkiye Cumhuriyeti, and la République française all appear on the Endonym Map, as do many other well-known countries you might at first glance assume you've never heard of. 

The map's creator notes that "the most common official or national language in the world is English, with 86 countries or territories," which represents "one-third the number of total countries and approximately 30% of the planet's land area." Because of that, people all over the world do tend to know the English exonym for their own country, but that's hardly an excuse not to learn its real name should you decide to pay them a visit. And that counts as the first step toward actually learning its language, a journey that the Foreign Service Institute's language-learning map we featured last year can help you plan. Hwaiting, as we say here in the Koreanized English — or Englishized Korean? — of hanguk.

You can view the Endonym Map in a larger, zoomable format here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A Supercut of Buster Keaton’s Most Amazing Stunts–and Keaton’s 5 Rules of Comic Storytelling

Joseph Frank Keaton was born into showbiz. His father was a comedian. His mother, a soubrette. He emerged into the world during a one night engagement in Kansas City. His father’s business partner, escape artist Harry Houdini, inadvertently renamed him Buster, approving of the way the rubbery little Keaton weathered an accidental tumble down a flight of stairs.

As Keaton recalls in the interview accompanying silent movie fan Don McHoull’s edit of some of his most amazing stunts, above:

My old man was an eccentric comic and as soon as I could take care of myself at all on my feet, he had slapped shoes on me and big baggy pants. And he'd just start doing gags with me and especially kickin' me clean across the stage or taking me by the back of the neck and throwing me. By the time I got up to around seven or eight years old, we were called The Roughest Act That Was Ever in the History of the Stage. 

By the time of his first film role in the 1917 Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle vehicle, The Butcher Boy, Keaton was a seasoned clown, with plenty of experience stringing physical gags into an entertaining narrative whole.

Like his silent peers, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin, Keaton was an idea man, who saw no need for a script. Armed with a firm concept of how the film should begin and end, he rolled cameras without much idea of how the middle would turn out, fine tuning his physical set pieces on the fly, scrapping the ones that didn’t work and embracing the happy accidents.

Could such an approach work for today’s comedians? In later interviews, Keaton was generous toward other comedy professionals who got their laughs via methods he steered clear of, from Bob Hope’s wordiness to director Billy Wilder’s deft handling of Some Like It Hot’s farcical cross-dressing. His was never a one-size-fits-all philosophy.

Perhaps it's more helpful to think of his approach as an antidote to creative block and timidity. We’ve cobbled together some of his advice, below, in the hope that it might prove useful to storytellers of all stripes.

Buster Keaton’s 5 Rules of Comic Storytelling

Make a strong start - grab the audience with a dynamic, easy to grasp premise, like the one in 1920’s One Week, which finds a newlywed Buster struggling to assemble a house from a do-it-yourself kit.

Decide how you want things to finish up - for Keaton, this usually involved getting the girl, though he learned to keep a poker face after a preview audience booed the broad grin he tried out in one of Arbuckle’s shorts. Once you know where your story’s going, trust that the middle will take care of itself.

If it’s not working, cut it - Keaton may not have had a script, but he invested a lot of thought into the physical set pieces of his films. If it didn’t work as well as he hoped in execution, he cut it loose. If some serendipitous snafu turned out to be funnier than the intended gag, he put that in instead.

Play it like it matters to you. As many a beginning improv student finds out, if you let your own material crack you up, the audience is rarely inclined to laugh along. Why settle for low stakes and diffidence, when high stakes and commitment are so much funnier?

Action over words Whether dealing with dialogue or exposition, Keaton strove to minimize the intertitles in his silent work. Show, don’t tell.

Films excerpted at top:

Three Ages
Cops
Day Dreams
Sherlock Jr.
One Week
Hard Luck
Neighbors
The General
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Seven Chances
Our Hospitality
The Bell

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Reworked in Major Key, Becomes a Cheerful Pop Song


Last year, Josh Jones took a good look at what happens when Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” gets shifted from minor to major key, and Radiohead’s “Creep” moves in the opposite direction. Suddenly, two songs you know so well sound so different.

Over the weekend, "Sleep Good," a psychedelic pop band from Austin, TX,  took their own whack at shifting Nirvana's 1991 song into major key. And the result will catch you a bit off-guard. A grunge anthem abruptly turns into a cheery pop song, and the bopping cheerleaders in the original music video strangely fit into the mood of the adapted song.

You can find a version of "Teen Sprite," as the song has been dubbed, over on Soundcloud.

via Uncrate

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1,000 Musicians Play Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Live, at the Same Time

How to Download Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House Now as a Free Audiobook?: Check Out Audible’s 30-Day Free Trial

Despite cease and desist orders issued by the president's lawyers, Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is now out and it's the #1 bestselling book on Amazon. If you want a print copy, you'll have to wait 2-4 weeks. But there are some more immediate options: You can instantly snag a copy in Kindle format (price $14.99). Or download it as an audio book essentially for free.

If you start a 30 day free trial with Audible.com, you can download two free audio books of your choice. At the end of 30 days, you can decide whether you want to become an Audible subscriber or not. (I definitely recommend the service and use it every day.) No matter what you decide, you get to keep the two free audiobooks. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House can be one of them. It runs 12 hours.

To sign up for Audible's free trial program here, follow the prompts/instructions on this page.

NB: Audible is an Amazon.com subsidiary, and we're a member of their affiliate program. Also, this post is not an endorsement of the book. (We haven't read it yet.) It's simply an fyi on how you can "read" a bestselling book that's in short supply.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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Hear a Dramatization of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys: Free for a Limited Time

A quick heads up: The BBC is now streaming a new, six-part adaptation of Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman’s mythical fantasy novel from 2006. Only available for the next few weeks, each episode runs about 30 minutes. Find them here.

Fans of Neil Gaiman will also definitely want to check out this post in our archive: 18 Stories & Novels by Neil Gaiman Online: Free Texts & Readings by Neil Himself.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

via Metafilter

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The Movements of a Symphony Conductor Get Artistically Visualized in an Avant-Garde Motion Capture Animation

Some classical music enthusiasts are purists with regard to visual effects, listening with eyes firmly fixed on liner notes or the ceilings of grand concert halls.

Those open to a more avant-garde ocular experience may enjoy the short motion capture animation above.

Motivated by the London Symphony Orchestra’s desire for a hipper identity, the project hinged on recently appointed Musical Director Sir Simon Rattle’s willingness to conduct Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations with a specially modified baton, while 12 top-of-the-range Vicon Vantage cameras noted his every move at 120 frames per second.

Digital designer Tobias Gremmler, who’s previously used motion-capture animation as a lens through which to consider kung fu and Chinese Opera, stuck with musical metaphors in animating Sir Simon’s data with Cinema 4D software. The movements of conductor and baton morph into a “vortex of wood, brass, smoke and strings” and “wires reminiscent of the strings of the instruments themselves.” Elsewhere, he draws on the atmosphere and architecture of classic concert halls.

(The uninitiated may find themselves flashing on less rarified sources of inspiration, from lava lamps and fire dancing to the 80’s-era digital universe of Tron.)

via Atlas Obscura

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch Prince Play Jazz Piano & Coach His Band Through George Gershwin’s “Summertime” in a Candid, Behind-the-Scenes Moment (1990)

A rock enigma wrapped around an R&B quandary, wearing platform shoes and purple velour. The cheekbones of an angel, dance moves and lyrics from an infernally sexy place, and more musical talent than it seems possible for a single person to possess in one lifetime…. These are some of the ways we remember Prince Rogers Nelson.

We do not typically remember him as a jazz pianist. But his facility with jazz earned him the admiration of Miles Davis, who made several efforts to collaborate with the extremely busy pop star. (They performed together only once, it seems, on New Year’s Eve, 1987 at Paisley Park.) Prince’s style, stage show, songwriting, and arranging drew from jazz of all kinds—from zoot suit-era big band to the frenetic movement of hard bop to the classically-inflected show tunes of George Gershwin. Just above see him “casually own” Gershwin's "Summertime" during a 1990 soundcheck in Osaka, Japan.

For the first minute, it’s a Prince showcase, but once he coaches the band through the changes, he lets them take it, settling back while the guitarist rides out a solo. The candid moment does much more than demonstrate his chops on the piano and appreciation for Gershwin. It offers yet another contrast to the popular image of Prince as a charismatic, self-sufficient solo artist who just happened to work with a regular crew of stellar musicians and not-so-stellar actresses.

It's true Prince played most or all of the instruments on many of his albums, wrote nearly all his own songs, directed or produced nearly every aspect of his music, career, and persona.... As solo artists go, no one comes close to defining full creative control. The Purple One ruled over a musical empire; most of the time, it seems, he got what he wanted, even if he sometimes had to fight like hell for it. We might expect such an artist to be a petty tyrant, hogging the spotlight and throwing his weight around at every opportunity. What we hear and see behind the scenes paints a much richer picture.

The footage here was shot by Steve Purcell, who directed several videos for Prince and, as he remarked, “spent six years of my life working for, creating with and laying the foundation for the rest of my career with Prince.” In his introduction to the video, he writes, “This may not be the Prince you think of but it is the Prince I knew.” A bandleader who was also an ensemble player, and who constantly paid tribute to the music that inspired him in live performance.

We might have known Prince as a generous hitmaker, who gave song after song to artists like Sheena Easton, Chaka Khan, Sinead O’Connor, and the Bangles, and launched the careers of a good many of his collaborators, musical and otherwise. Since his death, we’ve also learned much more about both his tremendous financial and emotional goodwill, and the time he took with other musicians to help them develop and learn.

The impossibly cool aloofness with which he glided through pop stardom did not extend to his relationships with the people closest to him. Prince was so beloved that his two ex-wives worked together to organize a star-studded memorial service for him. Stories of his kindness, good humor, compassion, and loyalty pour out at the same rate as the music he had locked up in his Paisley Park vault. We’ll likely see more candid videos like this one emerge as well, from those who, like Purcell, found their time documenting the artist a totally life-changing experience.

via Classical FM

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Hear Glenn Gould Channel Marshall McLuhan and Create an Experimental Radio Documentary Analyzing the Pop Music of Petula Clark (1967)

Glenn Gould, that intellectually intense, aesthetically austere interpreter of Johann Sebastian Bach, had little time for pop music. He had especially little time for the Beatles: "Theirs is a happy, cocky, belligerently resourceless brand of harmonic primitivism," he wrote in High Fidelity in 1967, when the Fab Four had reached the top of the zeitgeist. "The indulgent amateurishness of the musical material, though closely rivaled by the indifference of the performing style, is actually surpassed only by the ineptitude of the studio production method," he declares, likening "Strawberry Fields Forever" to "a mountain wedding between Claudio Monteverdi and a jug band."

But the Beatle-bashing was incidental to the purpose of the article, a paean to English singer Petula Clark. At first listen, her four singles on which Gould focuses his analysis — 1964's "Downtown," 1956's "My Love," and 1966's "A Sign of the Times" and "Who Am I?" — sound like nothing more than adolescent-oriented pop hardly touched by any of that decade's musical (or indeed social) revolutions. But "this quartet of hits," in Gould's view, "was designed to convey the idea that, bound as she might be by limitations of timbre and range, she would not accept any corresponding restrictions of theme and sentiment," with the result that she came to command an audience "large, constant, and possessed of an enthusiasm which transcends the generations."

Gould says all this in The Search for Petula Clark, a 23-minute radio documentary that aired on the CBC on December 11, 1967, less than three weeks before his much better-known experimental documentary The Idea of North. He situates his analysis of the singer he calls "Pet Clark," which gets into not just her songs' themes and lyrics but their technical qualities as music, in the context of a solo road trip around Lake Superior when "Who Am I?" first hit the airwaves. So compelled did he find himself that he timed his drive to get within range of one of the radio stations scattered across the vastness of his homeland at the top of each hour in order to hear the song over and over again, after 700 miles he got to "know it if not better than the soloist, at least as well, perhaps, as most of the sidemen."

Though born within two months of each other in 1932 and thereafter living lives dedicated to music, Gould and Clark would seem to have little else in common. While Gould died at 50, Clark, at the age of 85, continues to both record and perform. Gould, as J.D. Connor writes in an essay on The Search for Petula Clark, "stopped performing for live audiences in 1964. Freed from the rigors of the concert circuit, he dove into radio and television at just the moment when he and Canadian state media could parlay his immense musical popularity into something more."  This and the more intricate radio productions that would follow both sprang from and allowed Gould to construct "a media theory of his own. In print, on television, and, most important, on radio, Gould became the great complement to Marshall McLuhan." And like McLuhan, when Gould obsesses over something that never seemed to merit serious attention, we'd do well to heed the insights he draws from it.

Related Content:

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Glenn Gould Gives Us a Tour of Toronto, His Beloved Hometown (1979)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Hear the Hagia Sophia’s Awe-Inspiring Acoustics Get Recreated with Computer Simulations, and Let Yourself Get Transported Back to the Middle Ages

The technology used to produce, record, and process music has become ever more sophisticated and awe-inspiring, especially in the capability of software to emulate real instruments and acoustic environments. Digital emulation, or “modeling,” as it’s called, doesn’t simply mimic the sounds of guitar amplifiers, pianos, or synthesizers. At its best, it reproduces the feel of an aural experience, its textures and sonic dimensions, while also adding a seemingly infinite degree of flexibility.

When it comes to a technology called “convolution reverb,” we can virtually feel the air pressure of sound in a physical space, such that “listening in may be viewed as much as a spatial experience as it is a temporal one.” So notes Stanford’s Icons of Sound, a collaboration between the University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) and the Department of Art & Art History. The researchers in this joint project have combined resources to create a performance of Byzantine chant from the 6th century CE, simulated to sound like it takes place inside a prime acoustic environment designed for this very music, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Built by the emperor Justinian between 532 and 537, when the city was Constantinople, the massive church (later mosque and now state-run museum) “has an extraordinarily large nave spreading over 70 meters in length; it is surrounded by colonnaded aisles and galleries. Marble covers the floor and walls.” Its center is “crowned by a dome glittering in gold mosaics and rising 56 meters above the ground.” The effect of the building's heavy, reflective surfaces and its architectural enormity “challenges our contemporary expectation of the intelligibility of language.”

We are accustomed to hear the spoken or sung word clearly in dry, non-reverberant spaces in order to decode the encoded message. By contrast, the wet acoustics of Hagia Sophia blur the intelligibility of the message, making words sound like emanation, emerging from the depth of the sea. 

The Icons of Sound team has reconstructed the underwater acoustics of the Hagia Sophia using convolution reverb techniques and what are called “impulse responses”—recordings of the reverberations in particular spaces, which are then loaded into software to digitally simulate the same psychoacoustics, a process known as “auralization.” CCRMA describes an impulse response as an “imprint of the space,” which is then applied to sounds recorded in other environments. Typically, the process is used in studio music production, but Icons of Sound brought it to live performance at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall last year, and made the group Cappella Romana sound like their voices had transported from the Holy Roman Empire.

“To recreate the unique sound,” writes Kat Eschner at Smithsonian, “performers sang while listening to the simulated acoustics of Hagia Sophia through earphones. Their singing was then put through the same acoustic simulator and played during the live performance through speakers in the concert hall.” As you can hear in these clips, the result is immersive and profound. One can only imagine what it must have been like live. To complete the effect, the production used “atmospheric reinforcement,” notes Stanford Live, “via projected images and lighting." The audience was “immersed in an environment where the unique interplay of music, light, art, and sacred text has the potential to induce a quasi-mystical state of revelation and wonder.”

The only sounds the researchers were able to record in the actual space of the ancient church were four popping balloons. By layering the reverberations captured in these recordings, and compensating for the different decay times inside the Bing, they were able to approximate the acoustic properties of the building. You can hear several more audio samples recorded in different places at this site. In the video above, associate professor of medieval art Bissera Pentcheva explains how and why the Hagia Sophia shapes sound and light the way it does. While purists might prefer to see a performance in the actual space, one must admit, the ability to virtually deliver a version of it to potentially any concert hall in the world is pretty cool.

via The Smithsonian

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

The Story of How Beethoven Helped Make It So That CDs Could Play 74 Minutes of Music

We music fans of the increasingly all-digital 2010s take compact discs for granted, so much so that many of us haven't slid one into a player in years. But if we cast our minds back, and not even all that far, we can remember a time when CDs were precious, and the medium itself both impressive and controversial. Back when it first came on the market in 1982 (packaged in longboxes, you'll recall) it seemed impossibly high-tech, inspiring dreamily futuristic promotional videos like the one below and emerging from a process of development that required the combined R&D and industrial might of both Japan and Europe's biggest consumer-electronics giants, Sony and Philips.

That years-long coordinated effort, as Greg Milner writes in Perfecting Sound Forever, saw a team of engineers from both companies "shuttling between Eindhoven and Tokyo," the prototype CD player "given its own first-class seat on KLM."

Milner also mentions that "Philips wanted a 14-bit system and a disc that could hold an hour of music, while Sony argued for 16 bits and 74 minutes, supposedly because that was the length of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony," though he calls the Beethoven bit "likely a digital audio urban legend." But, like any urban legend, it contains grains of truth, though how many grains nobody quite knows for sure.

Philips' preferred system would play 115-millimeter discs, while Sony's would play 120-millimeter discs. As Wired's Randy Alfred tells it:

When Sony and Philips were negotiating a single industry standard for the audio compact disc in 1979 and 1980, the story is that one of four people (or some combination of them) insisted that a single CD be able to hold all of the Ninth Symphony. The four were the wife of Sony chairman Akio Morita, speaking up for her favorite piece of music; Sony VP Norio Ohga (the company’s point man on the CD), recalling his studies at the Berlin Conservatory; Mrs. Ohga (her favorite piece, too); and conductor Herbert von Karajan, who recorded for Philips subsidiary Polygram and whose Berlin Philharmonic recording of the Ninth clocked in at 66 minutes.

Further research to find the longest recorded performance came up with a mono recording conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler at the Bayreuth Festival in 1951. That playing went a languorous 74 minutes.

A good story, sure, but as Philips Engineer Kees A. Schouhamer Immink writes in a technical article marking the CD's 25th anniversary, "everyday practice is less romantic than the pen of a public relations guru." Whatever the influence of Beethoven, in 1979 "Philips’ subsidiary Polygram — one of the world's largest distributors of music — had set up a CD disc plant in Hanover, Germany that could produce large quantities of CDs with, of course, a diameter of 115mm. Sony did not have such a facility yet. So if Sony had agreed on the 115mm disc, Philips would have had a significant competitive edge in the music market. Ohga was aware of that, did not like it, and something had to be done."

How much does the running time of a CD, which would enjoy a long reign as the dominant media for recorded music, owe to what Immink calls "Mrs. Ohga’s great passion for [Beethoven]," and how much to "the money and competition in the market of the two partners"? Not even Snopes, which rules the claim of a connection between Beethoven's Ninth and the development of the CD as "undetermined," can settle the matter. But whatever determined the length of the albums in the CD era, that 74-minute runtime remains a strong influence on our expectations of album length even now that musicians can record and sell them at any length they like — and now that we the consumers can listen any way we like, fragmenting, re-arranging, and customizing all of our music experiences, even Beethoven's Ninth.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.





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