Monday, March 28, 2011

Another universal property of music discovered

Thanks to PD for forwarding this article from ScienceDaily and this link to the PDF version of the original scientific paper. I'm not precisely sure what the subject under discussion is - yet - but now there is another known property besides the octave that is common to all known musical scales, historical and experimental, worldwide.

There is a physicist friend who would dispute that many of these scales, including the common Western equal-temperered scale, are in fact "musical" - many of the intervals involved are dissonant. My mentor Suzanne Haik-Vantoura, writing as a classical composer, pointed out the same while pointing out the fundamental (and therefore in that sense, universal) quality of diatonicism. But in any case, largely built on dissonances or not, the various scales have a fundamental mathematical property in common.

Here are some hints from the ScienceDaily article and the paper, respectively.

- John Wheeler (יוחנן רכב)


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Stringed Instruments - The Nebel And Nebel-Azor" (1914)

Leaving further exploration of the page and its related links for another day, here is an article dating from 1914 on the rather mysterious nevel and the derivative nevel `asor mentioned in Hebrew Scripture. It was written before the discovery of what are apparently the only extant representations in art of the nevel from any period: those on the bar Kokhba coins of the second century AD (see left for an example). Its conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt accordingly: some direct and positive evidence (which we have now) is better than none (which we had then).

- John Wheeler (יוחנן רכב)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Finely tuned minds: The secret of perfect pitch (New Scientist)

While this article requires one to either log in or become an online subscriber to view, the subject matter is worth nothing for future reference. As it happens, I have perfect pitch and from my experience, having it requires accurate tonal memory (which can be fooled, however, into misassigning a standard pitch to the wrong frequency).

- John Wheeler (יוחנן רכב)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

ScienceDaily: Willingness to Listen to Music Is Biological, Study of Gene Variants Suggests

Hopefully it should surprise no one that the human willingness to listen to music is biological or that it has parallels in the willingness of animals to sing in their own ways. But how different human song is from animal song in so many fundamental aspects!

- John Wheeler (יוחנן רכב הסופר)