For years, Toronto-based radio host Alan Cross has been chronicling music history on his podcast.
Now, he’s reaching a new generation with a different medium — a children’s book called The Science of Song.
“I was part of something called The Science of Rock N’ Roll, which was a touring museum exhibit that went to science centres across North America… And after that whole thing ended, I had all this information, all this research that I had done and I wanted to do something with it,” he told Global News Morning Calgary on Saturday.
“I approached the publishers, Kids Can Press, who specialize in children’s books, and I said, ‘Hey, I want to try something different. Could I repurpose all this research that I had come up with for a children’s book?'”
With the green light from Kids Can Press, The Science of Song — a book for eight- to 14-year-olds, written by Alan Cross, Emme Cross and Nicole Mortillaro — was released three years later, on Sept. 7, 2021.
“It helps them a lot with why we make music, how we make music. There’s a lot of science. There’s a lot of technology,” said Alan Cross, a commentator for Global News.
“It took a real team effort to get this done. You can see that I’m maybe the lead author, but I had help from a number of people, including my wife, to make this thing happen.”
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The book touches on how sound works, the science of how we experience music and the evolution of headphones.
“Headphones are something that go back to the early 1900s when the navy commissioned some sort of things to listen to when they were on submarines. We also had telephone operators using headphones,” Cross said.
“But it wasn’t really until the 1950s that somebody decided that that technology could be adapted for consumer use.”
The book explores something youngins might not know about: Walkmans.
“One of the interesting things about that first Walkman is that it came with two headphone jacks because the head of Sony couldn’t imagine people sealing themselves off from society and not wanting to share music with somebody else,” Cross said.
“That lasted exactly one model of the Walkman before it all went to just the one headphone jack. But if kids want to know why everybody is walking around with headphones with their personal music devices, it all started with that device in 1979.”