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Some years ago there was a story I heard on NPR about B-flat. A surprisingly quick google of "NPR B-flat" finds it: this one.
It's really late and I gotta go to sleep, barely can keep my upper lids, away from my lower... but first I just wanted to say that I think you're right - I did see Pluto playing the Harmonica... in one of those Disney cartoons... back in the 50s maybe...
Holy cow! First, thanks for your comment. And second... the FIRST SENTENCE of this post makes me INSTANTLY want to be your friend! I would love to see the math on #1. I doubt I'd understand it, but I'm instantly fascinated. Two of my greatest interests are music and astronomy. And when they collide, I can't get enough.
The math is pretty simple: 1 (Julian) year is 31557600 seconds, which means that it has a periodicity of 1/31557600 seconds, or 1/31557600 Hz. Every time you double a frequency, it goes up exactly one octave. So you keep doubling until you get to a number that looks like it's in the area of frequencies of musical notes. After you double it 33 times, you're at the same note, 33 octaves higher, which is about 272.199 Hz. The C# around middle C is 277.183. So the Earth's orbit is just a tad lower than that.
Good, so the math isn't nearly as complicated as I thought it might be. Google wants to quibble with the exact amount of seconds in a year (the number I like best is 31556925.9936) but any difference at that magnitude isn't going to be significant.
And, if we don't limit ourselves to Western philosophy and include quarter tones, you can find a more specific pitch.
Thanks! Looking forward to more interaction.
That's why I used the Julian year, for simplicity. The Julian year is defined as 365.25 days, and is therefore different than the actual amount of time it takes for the Earth to orbit the sun -- but it's close enough for this purpose. Either one would count as a "seriously flat C#, 33 octaves below middle C".
I don't remember whether Indian music, for instance, really DOES tie itself to specific note frequencies the way that Western music does. In Chinese and Indian music, I thought it was a lot more about relative pitches than exact conversions from number to note. I seem to recall that the identification between exact number of vibrations to specific musical note comes down to us through Pythagoras and the Pythagorean tradition. (Back in high school, in our sophomore year, we had to research and do a presentation for math class for Honors math. One of my friends did a presentation called "Pythagoras, the Father of Modern Heavy Metal." He got an A.)
And just to put the notes in perspective to see why I call it "seriously flat" but not a different note:
Middle C is about 261.626 Hz. 1 year is 33 octaves below 272.199. C# is 277.183, and D is 293.665.
(I can put in a bunch of other caveats about these numbers, such as "these are for a mathematically ideal twelve-tone equally-tempered octave, with A=440", because of a number of other cool and annoying math/music things, like "why octaves need to be tempered" and "why you can't actually tune to the mathematical ideal even taking into account temperament" -- I don't actually know how to do those things, but I mention their existence, because I've got piano tuners in the family, and I want to emphasize how difficult their jobs are, and why they haven't been replaced by machines.)
This I understand. On a *perfectly* tuned instrument, you can harmonically create the untempered scale. A valuable lesson for my students (those that can grasp it), but hardly practical when dealing with Western musically philosophy. | |