King of Spades: My Favourite Strings

King of Spades featuring The LHC Control Centre, and magnets saying \'théorie M\'The following is to be sung to the tune of ‘My Favourite Things’ from The Sound of Music. For those of you who either don’t know the tune, or prefer to listen to something being sung badly than to imagine it being sung well, here is a hastily recorded demo.

Leptons and sleptons and quarks and gluinos,
positrons, Higgs bosons, muon neutrinos.
Some folks will tell you that all of these things
are just vibrations in closed loops of string.

D-branes and p-branes and strings heterotic,
worldsheets and nerd feats and mesons exotic,
Scores of false vacuums and questions they bring,
many more concepts that I can not sing

All existence
from Planck distance
strings can well explain,
and if you don’t think that 1D is enough,
then gen’ralise to membrane.

Don’t tie your strings into everyday chatter.
Don’t tell the truth when they ask what’s the matter.
Ordin’ry people just ask on which fing-
er they should put your new synchrotron ring.

Start off by getting all Klein-and-Kaluzy.
Add more dimensions and then you’ve got SUSY.
Have fun with spinors and Lie groups and rings,
call it a theory of everything.

When they mention
your dimension
doesn’t seem to show,
you simply remind them they’re all curled up small,
and that we will never know.


From the musical, ‘The Sound of Muons‘, Other potential songs are, ‘How do you solve a problem like quantum gravity?’ and ‘Yang-Mills are derived from a sound SU trick’.

I should make it clear that I’m neither a string theorist nor a singer, so it’s very likely that neither the lyrics nor the music are accurate. I checked my facts as well as I could, but I wouldn’t recommend using this to prepare for your thesis defense. If it bothers you that ‘mesons exotic’ are not specific to string theory while the rest of that stanza is, substitute ‘theorems exotic’. Musically, I was more influenced by the two Spaff parodies of My Favorite Things than by the original, although I did listen to the original today to compare.

The first line of this song came to me in a flash while I was trying to figure something out for the first Joker poem. I wrote most of the rest of it that day, and it’s been going around in my head ever since, waiting for an excuse to come out.

I wanted to wait until I had a chance to record it ‘properly’ with some friends to cover up my voice and perhaps some backing music hacked together in GarageBand. But it’s M week, so I can use the link to M-theory, and also it was my birthday on Saturday so I didn’t feel like writing much. Also, I’m at the end of my first suit (not my birthday suit.) If that’s not an excuse to humiliate myself, I don’t know what is.

Since it was fairly late by the time I had finalised the lyrics (I still had one third of it left to write), I recorded it in one take without much practice. I had a sore throat, I somehow managed to mispronounce ‘folk’, and I was singing quietly to avoid disturbing the neighbours (I prefer to disturb random internauts.) If you want to hear well-produced music, you’ll have to ask a musician. Or you could record it yourself. Please, somebody record themselves singing it so that I can take the recording of me down.

Wow, the window for uploading music to WordPress gives this hint: Link text, e.g. “Still Alive by Jonathan Coulton”

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  1. #1 by imacsimum on June 10, 2008 - 9:23 am

    raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens sounds just as good to me….I loved the “sound of music”


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