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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Jan > Jan 10

Re: Fox TV Special

From: Greg Sandow <gsandow@prodigy.net>
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 00:28:49 -0500
Fwd Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 01:15:24 -0500
Subject: Re: Fox TV Special


>Date: Sat, 09 Jan 1999 17:19:09 -0600
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
>From: Michael Christol <mchristo@mindspring.com>
>Subject: Re: Fox TV Special

>Apparently, you as a musician have forgotten the law of
>Harmonics... Everything vibrates at a certain frequency...
>Change the frequency of vibration of the object and you change
>the object... This has been demonstrated many times....play
>musical notes, and this generates a corresponding Color which
>can be used in a Kaleido- scopic display of sound and music.

Excuse me?????????

I suppose I should apologize for discussing this piecemeal, as I
scroll through messages that keep speeding further from reality.
But let me introduce myself as a music critic for the Wall
Street Journal, a member of the graduate studies faculty at
Juilliard, America's leading music school, and a composer who's
worked with everything from folksingers to opera companies, as
well as with synthesizers and digital audio.

This statement of Michael's is -- forgive me, Michael --
complete and utter nonsense. I'm very sympathetic to spiritual
beliefs, and I believe that music can have great spiritual
power, even, very likely, healing power. But Michael's statement
purports to describe not the spiritual meaning of music, but
physical facts about it. Not one of those supposed facts is
correct.

"Everything vibrates at a certain frequency." Not even musical
notes vibrate at one frequency. As I said in a previous post --
and as I can easily prove with standard musical software -- even
apparently pure musical notes consist of many frequencies at
once. (A pure sine wave would be an exception. But you won't
hear those outside a laboratory or a recording studio, where
they might be used for tuning or testing, or as a component of
sounds created on an analogue synthesizer.)

Besides, when we talk about musical notes vibrating, we're
talking about sound waves. Sound waves certainly vibrate. But in
what sense does a solid object vibrate? Perhaps it does in some
mystical sense, but that has nothing to do with the kinds of
tangible, measurable, physical vibrations involved in music.

"Change the frequency of vibration of the object and you change
the object."

A violinist makes a violin play different notes by changing the
way the strings vibrate. A clarinettist makes a clarinet play
different notes by changing the way the air inside the clarinet
vibrates. Musicians, in other words, do change vibrations that
have some connection with their instruments.

But how would you change the vibration of a rubber ball? Of a
broom? Of your kitchen sink? There are some objects that
obviously do vibrate -- a sheet of metal, to take a familiar
example, even one formed into a tool, like the blade of a saw.
But if you get a saw to vibrate, how does that change the saw?
In the rural south, musicians used to play the saw as a musicial
instrument, more or less by bowing it as if it were a violin. I
heard somebody doing that in the New York subway just a week or
so ago. He played the saw beautifully, changing its vibration to
form every musical pitch necessary to play a melody. But when he
finished, the saw hadn't changed at all.

"play musical notes, and this generates a corresponding Color
which can be used in a Kaleido- scopic display of sound and
music."

Oh, Michael, Michael...where did you ever learn such a thing?

Musical notes don't generate colors. The vibrations of sound --
relatively slow vibrations of air molecules -- have no relation
to light. There's no way at all to translate the wavelengths of
sound into light. If you play a note, no color physically
appears in the air or in your eye. Musicians often associate
musical notes with colors, but it's well known that they never
agree on which colors correspond to which notes. The association
of notes and colors is entirely subjective.

It's possible, of course, to build a machine or create a piece
of software that translates sound into color (I have a screen
saver that does this), but the translation is totally arbitrary.
If some sound produces a wash of red light, that's only because
the machine or the software was designed that way. There's no
intrinsic relation between the sound and the color red. In an
earlier post, I mentioned the Sound Forge Spectrum Analysis
plugin, which lets you display a visual analysis of the
frequencies in any sound on your computer. One form of the
display lets you see the frequencies as bands of color -- but
you can vary the colors at will, to decide for yourself which
colors will represent which frequencies.

Michael is talking very lovingly in spiritual terms. But the
things he's talking about aren't physical characteristics of
sound.

Greg Sandow


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