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Xiphias Gladius

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Two thoughts (that I posted to Facebook, and want to post here, too.) [Oct. 20th, 2013|10:29 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
1. Any regularly-repeating phenomenon has a frequency which can be measured in hertz. Musical notes are frequencies. Therefore, according to my math, the Earth orbits at a seriously flat C#, 33 octaves below middle C.

2. The folktale of The Little Red Hen, which many of us know as one of the first "Little Golden Books" for early readers we ever read, is basically the same plot as ATLAS SHRUGGED.

Edited to Add: By the way -- you may remember that I once posted about a lecture by Bill Barclay on "Why the 'music of the spheres' is kind of a real thing." The first point there was one of the basic premises.

The other observations were that Platonic harmonies are integer ratios between frequencies -- a major third actually IS two notes one of which is at a frequency one-third of the other -- and that objects in orbital relationships will, over enough time and interaction with one another, tidally lock into integer ratios.

Thus, if we had the capacity to "hear" frequencies as low as, say, the orbit of Neptune, and could "hear" it over astronomical deep time, we might "hear" it starting out discordant, and gradually falling into some sort of incredibly complex cosmic harmony as everything interacted on each other to pull into integral relationships.

Just a weird little way to think about things.

[User Picture]From: browngirl
2013-10-21 02:42 am (UTC)
*makes a note*
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[User Picture]From: navrins
2013-10-21 02:51 am (UTC)
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.

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[User Picture]From: desperance
2013-10-21 06:07 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2013-10-22 02:51 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: rymrytr
2013-10-22 07:17 am (UTC)

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...

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[User Picture]From: etrace
2013-10-27 05:19 pm (UTC)
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.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2013-10-27 05:34 pm (UTC)
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.
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[User Picture]From: etrace
2013-10-27 05:51 pm (UTC)
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.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2013-10-27 06:00 pm (UTC)
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.)
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2013-10-27 05:44 pm (UTC)
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.)
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[User Picture]From: etrace
2013-10-27 05:55 pm (UTC)
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.
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