Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

The music of physics

  1. Jun 26, 2004 #1

    I happened to find this page which shows how the frequencies of various common phenomena correspond to notes in the musical scale:

    "60 Hz power supply (US) is halfway in between Bb and B

    50 Hz power supply (Europe) is a G#

    International Distress Radio frequency is 500 KHz or a B

    Hydrogen vibrates at 1,420 MHz which is an F

    Magnetic resonance of Cesium's particle stream @ 9193 MHz is a C# (atomic clock)

    DNA vibrates at a G

    The Big Bang was an F#

    Schumann resonance is a B (electromagnetic hum of the ionosphere)

    Daily earth cycle is a G

    The yearly earth cycle is an out of tune C# but is exactly Sa or Sadja in Indian music which has been 136 Hz for thousands of years.

    The moon cycle is a G#, not a prominent note in Western music but the moon cycle vibration corresponding to 421Hz relates to the fact that in their day these composers tuned their A to these pitches:

    Mozart A = 421.6 Hz
    Handel A = 422.5 Hz
    Bach A = 415.5 Hz
    Berlin 1750's A = 422 Hz
    Paris 1810 A = 423 Hz

    Frequencies of piano's range = 27.5 Hz to 4,224 Hz

    Wavelengths of piano range = 12.5 m to .081 m (8.1 cm)

    Frequencies of extreme range of hearing = 15 Hz to 20,000 Hz

    Wavelengths of extreme range of hearing = 22 m to .017 m (1.7 cm)

    C zero is the lowest standard note four octaves below the flute's low C. It has a wavelength of 68 feet and a frequency of 16 Hz.

    Henri Bouasse demonstrated the existence of undertones in wind instruments in 1929. For more see Martin Vogel, The Theory of Sound Relationships.
    Data & Equivalents
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2004 #2
    That's from this site:

    McKenna Flutes: Correspondencies, Data & Equivalents

    There is another list there of the speed of sound in various things, which I found interesting.

    What stood out from the list is the lowest note on the piano: 27.5 hz. I didn't realize they went that low. Almost into infrasound. (Interestingly, though, he gives the very bottom edge of human hearing a value of 15 hz.)

    I assume this must be the largest sort of grand piano. I do know that the low notes on any piano are achieved by "cheating". There is a point at which they switch from solid wire to wire whose diameter has been artificially increased by wrapping it with more wire.

    This increases the diameter of the string without changing it's flexibility by an important amount. The end result is that they can get away with 1/4 length strings for these lowest notes and produce pianos of practical length.
  4. Jun 26, 2004 #3

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Very interesting!

    On a related note:

    http://www.rca-omsi.org/musicspheres.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  5. Jun 26, 2004 #4
    That's interesting. I had heard the phrase "Music of the Spheres" a million times without ever knowing where it came from or what it meant.
  6. Jun 26, 2004 #5

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I hope you don't mind the title; will change if you want. I thought this was too interesting to let pass as an afterthought in the other thread.
  7. Jun 26, 2004 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If I had perfect pitch, I could tell you what note my car's dashboard speaker makes when I open the door with the key still in the ignition. :devil:
  8. Jun 27, 2004 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    "relativity" in music

    and all these notes are ofcourse from a 12 tone musical scale but in other tonal (i.e microtonal) system they will differ.
    which actually says "realtive" is an idea also used in music.

    ah, btw i saw also tuning notes with the use of the constant pi, search for charles lucy in google or wikipedia.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2004
  9. Jun 27, 2004 #8
    I included the whole list just because it was interesting. The two items on it that were pertinent to the topic were that hitting the lowest note on a grand piano was a convenient way of hearing a note almost in the range of infrasound, and that some people, apparently, judge the very bottom of human hearing to be 15 cps rather than the more commonly cited 20 cps.

    I didn't mean to start a discussion of alleged musical relationships between naturally occuring phenomena.
  10. Jun 27, 2004 #9
    Screw Beethoven, what about the A on Dave Mustaine's guitar?
  11. Jun 27, 2004 #10

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    So what you are saying is that all notes are relative? May I quote you on that? :biggrin:

    It still makes for an interesting perspective.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2004
  12. Jun 28, 2004 #11


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    i prefer you dont because of copyright reasons, unless you want to pay for the use of this quote.
    i think we could arrange you getting a contributer icon for you, something along the lines "lqg's contributer". :rofl: :wink:
  13. Jun 28, 2004 #12
    I heard on the radio the other day (BBC, so must be true) :tongue2: that the big bang was silent, but the expansion of the universe started off as a major, but now has become a minor.

    I just didn't know the universe was so talented. What's it going to do for an encore?

    Anyway, I probably misheard. It was something about the Ramones or something, most likely.
  14. Jun 28, 2004 #13
    My best friend when I was a kid, and his brother, used to fart in a sustained manner that rose in pitch, as I recall. I'm sure they hit some of the notes of the scale in the process.
  15. Jun 28, 2004 #14
    The Secret Melody

    The Secret Melody (And Man Created The Universe), by good ole’ Trinh has some wonderful insights regarding this subject;

    http://www.innovationwatch.com/books/bks_0195073703.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  16. Aug 9, 2004 #15
    Does any1 know why notes "go together" in a harmony or chords?
    Is it to do with the frequency of the notes?

    Also, why does a thicker string produce a lower pitch sound?
  17. Aug 9, 2004 #16
    You know what that means right? :ack: For all the non-music affectionados out there, minor chords are more depressed-sounding than major chords (just take the standard C scale and lower it down two notes [A] while still maintaining the key signature). This technique is used a lot to create dread-type emotions during movies. Listening to 'Row Row Row Your Boat' in major is one example. Turning that song into minor makes it sound like the boat is sinking :suprised:.

    Transitions into major keys at the end of a song from a pure minor song seems resolving and peaceful.

    But still.. the universe started major and turned minor? Guess it went somber on us.
  18. Jan 15, 2010 #17
    the best reason i've heard for why certain sounds are harmonic and certain ones are dissonant is based on ratios. basically the harmonic intervals (octaves, fifths, thirds) are simpler ratios. octaves for example are 1:1. Fifths are 3:2. A tritone by contrast has a ratio of 45:32.

    The theory that makes sense to me is that simpler intervals are easier for our brains to process and therefore sound beautiful.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook