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CATEGORY: Questioning the Foundations Essay Contest (2012) [back]
TOPIC: The Physics of Sound, Acoustics and Music and Many False Assumptions by Thomas Sanford Wagner [refresh]

Author Thomas Sanford Wagner wrote on Sep. 7, 2012 @ 11:12 GMT
Essay Abstract

Up until quite recent time music has been taught as and considered to be a science. The analog approach to synthesis and the linear approach to scale construction have virtually destroyed the use of music as an analytic tool. Acoustics is an area where wrong assumptions are rife. This essay deals with the errors present in contemporary understanding of music, acoustics, vibration and resonance.

Author Bio

Originally a professional composer who wrote everything from Nightclub acts to film score to piano concertos and four and a half operas. Founded and led The Wagner Renaissance Opera Company, Inc. and wrote and directed most of its repertoire. (http://wropera.com). Wrote the Structural Resonance papers and received a grant to pursue development of this theory from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation. Designed a novel medical billing program. Designed an automatic prescription filling program. Co-developed a music engraving program that received the first patent in that field in150 years. Developed a novel and virtually unbreakable hardware encryption program. Designed a new cochlear implant. Designed a method to duplicate ort better the sound of a Stradivarius. Designed a method to acoustically condition any hall or listening area.

Frank Makinson wrote on Sep. 7, 2012 @ 19:06 GMT
Thomas,

I am not a musician, but your article was very interesting and I have forwarded it to an engineer that has a passion for flutes and a mechanical engineer turned archeologist.

Your statement, "Hearing music inside a standing wave is an experience that is incredible and is never forgotten.", reminded me of an article where an electrical engineering student at MIT had identified an electromagnetic resonant mode of the large EE lecture hall, a metal sheeted building. He built a transmitter tuned to the lecture hall mode, then walked around with an antenna coupled to a meter identifying the positions of the standing waves peaks and nulls.

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Thomas Wagner replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 20:02 GMT
Frank

I think the nodes and anti-nodes the engineering student found were different from the structure of a standing wave in a properly tuned hall. The nodes would not be so evident if they appear at all in such a condition.

This particular phenomenon has never really been studied.

Tom Wagner

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 00:38 GMT
Hello Thomas,

Various points in your paper resonate with me, after only a quick read through. Unlike Frank I AM a musician and singer, plus a recording engineer... I have experienced singing in places so live that a quartet sounded like a chorus and every singer could hear the others effortlessly, but such venues are rare.

The discussion in your paper is meaningful and I apply some of your insights. When I use equalization in mixdown, I like to tune the EQs to the key of the song - so as to preserve harmonic relationships of natural tonality. But sometimes; one must tune out the boominess or other defect in the acoustics of a hall. So one must be mindful of those considerations too.

You can find examples of both approaches on "At 89" by Pete Seeger, which won me a Grammy award.

I have MP3s showing the contrast in sound of harmonic and tempered chords and scales (computer generated tones), which I will locate. In Barbershop style, singers will attempt to make some chords 'ring' - by adjusting intonation to the harmonic tuning. And of course; Classical Indian music is all based on harmonic tunings.

But I wanted you to know I found your paper both meaningful and fun. My essay is Cherished Assumptions and the Progress of Physics. Good luck in the contest.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Thomas Wagner replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 19:25 GMT
Jonathon

Thanks for the nice thoughts. You are quite right about the rarity of really fine listening areas. When my opera company was still active we were located in the basement of a lovely old church on West End Avenue in New York City. The acoustics of that basement were excellent. When we once performed upstairs in the main church the acoustics there were dreadful.

The air chamber in any musical instrument will resonate to any frequency fed to it. I am thinking that a listening area should do so as well so one project I am presently involved with is to see if I can force a resonance into a concert hall. It presents some unique problems.

Tom Wagner

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 23:56 GMT
It's weird,

One of my favorite places to sing is this one hallway in a mall, where the singers can hear each other, the listeners can hear all the singers in balance, and there is a lovely natural reverb and tonal evenness.

As you say; sometimes the meeting rooms used for practice in those old churches are much finer listening spaces than the sanctuary. And these days; the natural acoustics are often deadened or flattened in halls - rather than being allowed to resonate at all - because the thought is that there will always be electronic amplification where needed.

But I loved the tuned urns in your description of the halls of ancient times. Maybe instead of trying to deaden the wild frequencies, acoustic designers should be looking for ways to make dead frequencies resonate more, or be filtered out less. That would be a whole different approach to acoustic design from what is prevalent today. Sounds cool.

Regards,

Jonathan

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Thomas Wagner replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 15:51 GMT
Jonathan

In a truly resonant hall the absolutely last thing we would want to do is deaden or remove any sound at all. When a true resonance forms all of the ambient sound in the hall becomes part of the resonance and it behaves as a marvelous natural amplifier. In such a hall amplification is totally unnecessary. There are no echoes in a properly tuned hall. All of the sound present supports the music being performed. The singers and instrumentalist in the opera company were seasoned veterans who performed in many halls around the world and yet not one had ever experienced anything like the acoustics of the Chapel of the Resurrection.

The primary reason good halls are so rare is because of our rigid adherence to the concert pitch. 440A is considered to be as immutable as the atomic weight of hydrogen. If we were to use the pitch of the hall instead of 440A we would find many more good halls. We could of course build halls with the proper ratios of dimensions as defined by Vitruvius and then the hall would be tuned to 440A. This is not likely to happen as architects seemed to be totally locked into absorptive materials and reflective panels and Sabine's ray analysis and so good halls remain lucky accidents.

The theater of Epidaurus in Greece is remarkably in tact and might be a place to test the wither or not the ancient Greek theaters were tuned.

Tom

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Thomas Wagner wrote on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 18:20 GMT
The Structural Resonance papers will appear on my Web page (wropera.com) in a day or so. Sorry for the minor delay.

Tom Wagner

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 21:57 GMT
Dear Thomas Wagner,

Structural acoustics is indeed perhaps manifold enough as to possibly inspire those who are trying to understand the structure of elementary waves. Having thoroughly dealt with the physiology of hearing and participating in the cochlear amplifier list maintained by Flatmax, I would like to slightly complete what you wrote on auditory function. Acoustics is not just standing waves. My first main insight from study of hearing is as trivial as important for physics: Signal processing in the ear does not correspond to Fourier analysis but to the simpler cosine transformation because the input is restricted to the past.

An other contribution of acoustics to physics relates to an experiment by Norbert Feist. See Fig. 5 of my essay. If I am correct - and so far nobody objected although I am urgently asking for objections - then the never measured length contraction / time dilution according to Lorentz covariance has no justification. While I am not the first one to suspect that the infamous expectation of a non-null result for the famous experiment by Michelson and Morley was wrong, I consider my reasoning easily understandable for everybody.

I often attended the annual meetings of the German Society of Acoustics (DAGA), and I will not forget an impressive demonstration of ultrasound that was audibly directed at will to any spot of reflection like a spotlight. This and the light spots to be seen on clouds or flying targets inspired me to understand the experiments by Feist and by Michelson.

I hope your essay will get the due attention.

Best,

Eckard

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Eckard replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 16:03 GMT
Eckard

We had a fascinating exchange of comments in the last contest and I welcome your idea in the present one. I cannot, however, find your essay. Can you supply the URL for it?

Tom

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 19:07 GMT
Here you are.

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 05:47 GMT
Dear Thomas Sanford Wagner,

The phenomenon of resonance may be well described by defining matters as strings, in that a generic wave mechanics to be defined for both acoustic and EM waves.

With best wishes,

Jayakar

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Donatello Dolce wrote on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 20:33 GMT
Dear Thomas,

nice essay, I'll give you a good rate.  Sound it is the link between physics, mathematics, figurative  arts and music. Pease, read my essay ElementaryTime Cycles, where I describe how is possible to describe mathematically elementary particles as the relativistic generalization of sound source. In fact sound also is at the base of quantum formalism, see Reyleigh. However I have not considered the difference between vibration and resonance. Is it correct to say that a sound source vibrates and the air of the hall, or the hall itself, resonates? In this case matter field are vibrations of the space-time whereas the mediators of interactions are resonances.

best regards,

Donatello

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Thomas Wagner wrote on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 16:01 GMT
Donatello

Music and sound are fundamental to the concepts of Quantum Mechanics but this is useless without a proper understanding of the physics of music and sound. You are absolutely correct in you statement that the sound source vibrates and the air in the hall resonates.

Musical instruments provide the best example. The sound of any musical instrument begins with a vibration and this is the only vibration that can exists in the instrument. In woodwind and brass instruments the vibration forms in the mouthpiece and, like the example of the tuning fork, this vibration elicits a resonance which forms in the sides of the tube which in turn creates the internal structure in the air within the body of the instrument.

A vibration can only occur if the frequency is at or near one of the partials of the basic nodal structure of the vibrating object. A resonance on the other hand will accept any frequency. This is the most significant difference between vibration and resonance.

I am in the process of reading your paper which so far is terrific. I will write about the behavior of the air in listening areas such as concert hall in my reply to paper on your Web page.

Tom Wagner

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Author Thomas Sanford Wagner replied on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 21:56 GMT
Donatello

While in many ways the interior of a concert hall behaves like the interior of an instrument such as, say a trombone there is a difference that bothered me for a long time. That remarkable standing wave that was created when we performed in the Chapel of the Resurrection in Valparaiso Indiana was created by the resonances of the voices and instruments of the performers.

In a voice or an instrument the air chambers that contain the resonances are small and the wave would form virtually instantaneously. In an area the size of the Chapel there should have been a delay. The delay in that area should have been greater than a tenth of a second and would have easily be sensed but the lovely sound started immediately.

Then I remembered the first moon landing where they crashed the LEM into the surface of the moon. This caused a resonance (NASA called it resonance which is to their credit). According to NASA the moon rang like a bell for a considerable time. If the resonance was progressive the size of the moon should possibly have made the resonance impossible but apparently the resonance was instantaneous, just as with the interior of the Chapel.

The only explanation is that the resonance was already sounding. There is plenty of ambient energy in just about anything, solids, air, whatever.

On the moon it was an impulse function, much like clapping to elicit a resonance. This is usually what is done in places like Stonehenge and the old Greek theaters (not the best method) but it words to a degree. The chapel had such a dramatic response because the pitch of our performance was at or very near the fundamental frequency of the already existing resonance of the chapel.

I cannot help wondering about the resonance of an elementary particle and is it a simple as the resonance of macroscopic body.

This could be a great over-simplification or perhaps it could be something worth thinking about.

Thanks again for that great article.

Tom

Donatello Dolce replied on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 08:21 GMT
Hi Thomas,

Thank you for your detailed reply. What you say is really fascinating. Though I cannot see your attachments, I can figure out what you say. But I would rather say that if the structure of music is defined by the Enharmonic system, the structure of sound is described by the harmonic system of a vibrating string for example. That is to say on Pythagoras studies. According to my mathematical results the axiomatic (and not intuitive) structure at the base of our description of QM can be elegantly and simply derived from the physics of a harmonic system...after all this idea is also behind orthodox string theory, though this theory is absolutely not simple from a mathematical point of view.

This also means that the other aspects of music or sound that you describe, if correctly generalized to 4D, can be used to describe important quantum phenomena in a very elegant way, an resolve some of the quantum paradoxes that we have.

Please give a look to the caption of the pictures in my web page: http://www.ph.unimelb.edu.au/~ddolce/

regards,

Donatello

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Donatello Dolce replied on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 08:23 GMT
Hi Tom,

Probably the system that I would like to describe to explain the mass of the carrier of information and therefore the gauge symmetry breaking that we observe at LHC is more similar to the air chamber of a instrument rather than of a Chapel...but this are just hits that I am trying to work out.

I keep Reyleight's book close to my desk and I am sure that there I will find help for my hints...actually in that fundamental book about sound theory it is possible to see how an apparently abstract mathematical tool such as the Hilbert space has a very simple description and application in describing the harmonics of a sound source.

regards,

Donatello

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 21:24 GMT
Donatello

Thank you for that essay. I have been hoping to find one such as this. It also opens the door to connections with others who are realizing that music has much to do with physics, especially quantum physics.

In physics the most groundbreaking ideas are the simple ones.

This is a principle held by many, including Einstein. However, the mathematics used to define such things as quantum mechanics is horrendous. When we consider fields as continuous in nature and mass as composed of infinitesimal points it follows that the mathematics will be very complex.

Musical mathematics, although it can become quite complex, can be reduced to very simple precepts. The structures of music are defined by the Enharmonic System. If you look up enharmonic in a dictionary it will define enharmonic as - notes that sound the same but are written differently. This is the exact opposite of what enharmonic actually means. In an enharmonic system we are dealing with notes that are written the same but sound differently.

Even a simple scale, called a diatonic scale in music, has intervallic problems. It actually takes three diatonic scales to create perfect harmony. It takes 38 scales to allow for proper tuning of the chromatic system. Most musicians do not understand the enharmonic system. If they did we certainly would not have the tonometric system. I described the tonometric system in the essay.

Not only can everything in music be defined by positive integers the entire enharmonic system is comprised of the powers and multiples of just three numbers; 2, 3 and 5.

I cannot help wondering that if so much of quantum mechanics appears to be musical in nature how much could it be simplified if we really used musical principles.

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Author Thomas Sanford Wagner replied on Sep. 14, 2012 @ 02:42 GMT
The problem with speculative thinking is that it is too easy to overlook a basic premise. While I think I am correct about the existence of a natural resonance in the moon I overlooked the fact that a resonance is not self-sustaining. There has to be an initial vibration if a resonance or a cascade of resonances if the resonance is sustainable. There must be a vibration and a feedback occurring in the moon and I will leave the argument there as I am not sure we have enough data about the internal structure of the moon.

My apologies for this but it does in no way challenge my basic argument.

Donatello Dolce replied on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 08:26 GMT
I do know very much about moonquakes during the lunar missions. Your description could be interesting to study that phenomenon, though this is not something questioning the foundations of physics, it could be something questioning the foundations of the moon ;)

Regards,

Donatello

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 14, 2012 @ 17:40 GMT
Thomas Sanford Wagner,

You might find the BIG BAND Theory of Gravity interesting.

The rhythm of the Universe

Joel M Williams

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Thomas Wagner replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 18:21 GMT
Joel

I found your thoughts both interesting quite original. I have a somewhat different view of gravity - which follows:

Einstein, who, more than anyone else gave us our current view of the nature of gravity, said that gravity is not a force and yet in most of contemporary physics gravity is treated as if it were. It appears that the presently held view of gravity is that it does...

view entire post

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Thomas Wagner replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 18:27 GMT
Loel

Once the program dropped my formula. The missing formula is : F = G(m1m2/r2)

It is not particulately important to the post but just to keep everything tidy.

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Sep. 15, 2012 @ 06:37 GMT
Dear Thomas,

I don't know if you have considered writing a book about this, but if not, you should. I know other music people besides myself who would be interested in it. A lot of physicists and mathematicians are interested in music, but few seem to have detailed or precise knowledge about it. For instance, I play and compose (mostly classical piano), but didn't know much of the material in your essay. Anyway, I appreciate it. Take care,

Ben Dribus

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Thomas Wagner replied on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 19:07 GMT
Ben

I don't know if there is sufficient material to warrant writing a book but I have written several comprehensive papers about the subject. I have been trying to get to be able to upgrade my Webpage but I have it so messed up I think I will have to make an entire new Web page.

Meanwhile if you wish to read the papers, titled Structural Resonance I will be glad to send you the Preface and Parts 1 and 2.

If you wish to read them send me an email. That will provide me with your URL.

Tom Wagner

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus replied on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 12:47 GMT
Tom,

Ben

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Thomas Wagner replied on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 18:07 GMT
Ben

Go to my Webpage - wropera.com. You will find the webpage is rather sparse and incomplete. I created it some years ago simply because the corporations and institutions that I deal with expect you to have a Web page. I am now in the process of remaking the Web page. Then it will be much more interesting.

Go to the 'contact us' page and send an email with the Contact Button. That way both our URLs will not be shown.

Tom

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 09:56 GMT
Dear Thomas Sanford Wagner

Very interesting to see your essay.

Perhaps all of us are convinced that: the choice of yourself is right!That of course is right.

So let's the consider clearly defined for the basis foundations theoretical as the most challenging with intellectual of all of us.

A real challenge is very close and are the focus of interest of the human science: it is a matter of mass and grain Higg boson of the standard model.

Knowledge and belief reasoning of you how to express an opinion on this matter:

You have think that: the Mass is the expression of the impact force to material - so no impact force, we do not feel the Higg boson - similar to the case of no weight outside the Earth's atmosphere.

Does there need to be a particle with mass for everything have volume? If so, then why the mass of everything change when moving from the Earth to the Moon? Higg boson is lighter by the Moon's gravity is weaker than of Earth?

LHC particle accelerator used to "Smashed" until "Ejected" Higg boson, but why only when the "Smashed" can see it,and when off then not see it ?

Can be "locked" Higg particles? so when "released" if we do not force to it by any the Force, how to know that it is "out" or not?

You are should be boldly to give a definition of weight that you think is right for us to enjoy, or oppose my opinion.

Because in the process of research, the value of "failure" or "success" is the similar with science. The purpose of a correct theory be must is without any a wrong point ?

Hải.Caohoàng of THE INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS AND A CORRECT THEORY

August 23, 2012 - 11:51 GMT on this essay contest.

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S Halayka wrote on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 19:21 GMT
Hi Thomas,

Thanks for leaving a comment on my page, and thanks for sharing your essay. I think that your essay is quite awesome, because I do love music a lot and the essay taught me some things.

I was reading a bit about your work called The Legend of the Rood, and that got me reading about a whole lot of other related things, so thanks for that too. It's not really related, but I have to ask: have you read the books in the series A Song of Ice and Fire by GRR Martin? Aside from the light dusting of fantasy, it's a pretty fascinating interpretation of what medieval life might have been like. As a bonus for me, his universe also includes songs and music. :)

- Shawn

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Shawn Halayka replied on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 22:17 GMT

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 11:00 GMT
Dear Maestro Thomas

Welcome back this year to the fqxi essay contest!

Thank you for an exceptionally well-written and interesting essay. Your observations about vibrations and resonance by, in and outside of instruments made me realize how much I am missing. I love music and have made some 70 paintings in a series called Painting the Music made whilst listening to and reacting to the compositions of various composers. But it was music mostly heard through headphones. I can imagine what I have missed by not being inside an acoustically perfect space.

Standing waves are not only important in acoustics of course. Whether within laser cavities or in models of the atom conceived as a standing wave, they are very important in physics. The late Gabriel LaFrenier speculated that matter is made up of standing waves - a new take on resolving the particle-wave dichotomy.

I hope you will read and rate my fqxi essay Fix Physics!

Wishing you all the best

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Author Thomas Sanford Wagner wrote on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 20:45 GMT
Shawn

Unfortunately my Web page is rather sparse as I only created it because the corporations and institutions that I have been in touch with expect a Web page. I am now in the process of creating a new Web page that will be more complete. I will put some of my music, including some from the Legend of the Rood on it.

Writing the Rood was a delightful experience as it gave the opportunity to write true linear counterpoint, that is, counterpoint with no harmonic structure as harmony did not come into existence for many years. The play is Cornish Miracle play that survived intact and even had stage directions and a list of how much the various actors were paid. It is very anachronistic play and is quite funny.

I have not read the book you suggest but will search it out. I can recommend two wonderful books about the Middle Ages. One is 'Byzantine and Medieval Music Volune 2' by Romain Goldron. It can be found here; http://www.abebooks.com/book-search/author/romain-goldron.

Th
e other is 'Notre Dame of Paris' by Allan Tempko.

Both authors really loved the Middle Ages and wrote wonderfully about them. Tempko's book is a history of the building of the Cathedral of Notre Dame and provides a great look at life in Paris of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This cathedral was the first truly Gothic Cathedral and its construction makes for some real drama.

Goldon's book is a lovely description of the development of music from the Byzantine period through Perotinus and the Notre Dame school. He ends his book with this quite form Thomas Aquinas written in the thirteen the century:

"It is then clear that music is the most noble of human sciences, and each person must study it in preference to all others, for, apart from music, no science has ever been bold enough to enter the portals of the Church."

I will discuss the encryption system in another posting.

Tom Wagner

Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 04:17 GMT
Hi Tom,

Thanks for the thoughtful comments on my essay forum. It took me a while to find them, and I have not written a reply yet, but I expect to do so in the next day or so. I like the idea that gravity is not a force, as such. This would seem to fit well with a topological approach to particle mass like that in Michael Goodband's essay. But great food for thought either way.

Thanks also for the detailed replies to my comments on your forum above. I like what was said there too. More detailed comments when there is time.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Karl Coryat wrote on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 23:24 GMT
Tom, as a musician myself in my other life, and author of a popular recording book ("Guerrilla Home Recording"), I was naturally attracted to your essay. While I don't think you're focusing on the most foundational issues in physics, your essay is fascinating and enlightening nonetheless, and touches on a lot of mysteries in acoustics. For example, I've always wondered why it's impossible to get a loudspeaker playing a recording of speech to sound like a person in the room talking. Or, what it would take to get a recorded mix, played on speakers or headphones, to truly sound like a live performance. Even from a block away, you can always tell whether the music coming from a venue is live or recorded. In college, I thought the solution would involve starting the signal chain with a "digital microphone" that operated similar to the human cochlea, until someone pointed out that turning such signals back into analog sound would necessitate basically simulating the human brain.

Anyway, thanks for submitting your essay; I'll surely re-read it when things settle down. You deserve to be doing better in the competition. Best of luck.

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Thomas Wagner replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 21:08 GMT
Karl

Thank you for that fine post.

I feel that music is (or should be) one of the foundations of physics. Quantum physicists are fond of saying that when you study quantum physics you are studying music. The problem is that most physicists do not have a true understanding of real music theory. They shouldn't feel too badly as most musicians don't either. The worst offenders in the wrong ideas of musical theory are the university music departments. Igor Stravinsky once said of university music theory departments that they are places where professors of counterpoint grope forever in regions of outer darkness. That may be a bit harsh but then Stravinsky was never known for being a gentle spirit.

I am finally getting physicists and non-physicists alike interested in these ideas. When I first wrote the Structural Resonance papers I got some heavy resistance. Fortunately I had for a friend and mentor Dr. Frederick Seitz, Fred was a former president of the National Science Foundation. He was president of the Rockefeller University when I met him. He was also on the Boards of Directors of more companies that you could shake a stick at. His help and encouragement made it all happen.

I have most of the tools I need and some of the coding written to try and be able to actually record and reproduce truly real sound. How these ideas interface with physics will need input from physicists but the postings I have been getting are very encouraging.

Tom

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Stephen M Sycamore wrote on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 22:07 GMT
Dear Tom,

It's refreshing to read and consider an essay that hits so close to home in the human aspects of experience. I have a background in music also and am going to give your essay a good rating. Maybe you'll consider my essay that has very much to do with waves (EM waves) and the dispersion and Doppler processes which conspire to produce the relativistic effects.

I think you could have said much more about the comparative staleness of equal tempered scales. In Europe, especially, there is a bit of a revival in rebuilding cathedral organs that have their original tempered tunings. The experience of hearing one brings the music alive gives a unique character to each and every musical piece.

It's unfortunately seldom expressed or possibly even little recognized that excellent performers modify the pitch of the tones of the scale they are playing or singing to suit the harmonic context of the passage. That recognition of artistry could and should be taught.

With best wishes,

Steve

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Thomas Wagner replied on Oct. 2, 2012 @ 14:58 GMT
Steve

Thank you for the very nice post. I shall certainly read your essay.

I did not go further into equal tempered tuning as 25,000 characters do not go very far. The tempered scale is the bane of music today. Technology should have completely eradicated it but yet it persists like a summer cold. Most Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) are set to the tempered scale and consider...

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 30, 2012 @ 14:25 GMT
Dear Thomas

Music in Terms of Science

James Q. Feng arXiv:1209.3767 [pdf, other]

I think interesting for you.

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t wrote on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 21:06 GMT
Karl

Thank you for that fine post.

I feel that music is (or should be) one of the foundations of physics. Quantum physicists are fond of saying that when you study quantum physics you are studying music. The problem is that most physicists do not have a true understanding of real music theory. They shouldn't feel too badly as most musicians don't either. The worst offenders in the wrong ideas of musical theory are the university music departments. Igor Stravinsky once said of university music theory departments that they are places where professors of counterpoint grope forever in regions of outer darkness. That may be a bit harsh but then Stravinsky was never known for being a gentle spirit.

I am finally getting physicists and non-physicists alike interested in these ideas. When I first wrote the Structural Resonance papers I got some heavy resistance. Fortunately I had for a friend and mentor Dr. Frederick Seitz, Fred was a former president of the National Science Foundation. He was president of the Rockefeller University when I met him. He was also on the Boards of Directors of more companies that you could shake a stick at. His help and encouragement made it all happen.

I have most of the tools I need and some of the coding written to try and be able to actually record and reproduce truly real sound. How these ideas interface with physics will need input from physicists but the postings I have been getting are very encouraging.

Tom

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 04:02 GMT
If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings in the contest are calculated in the next way. Suppose your rating is
$R_1$
and
$N_1$
was the quantity of people which gave you ratings. Then you have
$S_1=R_1 N_1$
of points. After it anyone give you
$dS$
of points so you have
$S_2=S_1+ dS$
of points and
$N_2=N_1+1$
is the common quantity of the people which gave you ratings. At the same time you will have
$S_2=R_2 N_2$
of points. From here, if you want to be R2 > R1 there must be:
$S_2/ N_2>S_1/ N_1$
or
$(S_1+ dS) / (N_1+1) >S_1/ N_1$
or
$dS >S_1/ N_1 =R_1$
In other words if you want to increase rating of anyone you must give him more points
$dS$
then the participant`s rating
$R_1$
was at the moment you rated him. From here it is seen that in the contest are special rules for ratings. And from here there are misunderstanding of some participants what is happened with their ratings. Moreover since community ratings are hided some participants do not sure how increase ratings of others and gives them maximum 10 points. But in the case the scale from 1 to 10 of points do not work, and some essays are overestimated and some essays are drop down. In my opinion it is a bad problem with this Contest rating process.

Sergey Fedosin

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 10:42 GMT
Dear Thomas,

As someone interested in both physics and music, I found your essay very interesting, and indeed eye-opening. You cover a lot of ground in different areas music theory in just one short paper, and I think this may increase the likelihood that some of your arguments escape notice. I looked at your website, and if I may make a suggestion, it would be helpful to interested persons if

a) you could include some samples that allow the listener to directly compare music according to the tempered scale against the properly tuned one.

b) you could have dedicated web pages for each of the areas in which your framework leads to a better understanding of aspects of music theory.

Finally, it seems to me that among those interested in your work may be

a) music instrument manufacturers

b) musicians, both composers and performers

c) music theorists

d) physicists

e) architects

f) physicians

g) public health officials

h) entrepreneurs and venture capitalists

And each group among this "target audience" has obviously different perspectives, backgrounds, levels of and need for understanding aspects of your work. So, if you have not already done so, you may wish to differentiate your approach towards each group. For example you might consider having sections in your website dedicated to addressing each group separately.

At any rate, your essay was very interesting, and I wish you all the best.

Armin

PS. I noticed that you designed an automatic prescription filling progam. Ha, another commonality, as I am (still) a pharmacist by profession.

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Thomas Wagner replied on Oct. 8, 2012 @ 17:56 GMT
Armin

Thinks for the post.

I am currently creating a new Web page in which I will explore many of the things you suggest. I will also put examples of some of my music and some samples of tempered and perfectly tuned music as well.

Reading and responding to the essays here has proved to be a delightful but time-consuming enterprise.

The prescription program was written for a psychiatrist who deals a lot with drug patients. The details required by the Feds and the prescription forms meant she was spending many hours writing out prescriptions. I was able to automate the process to satisfy both the Feds and the pharmacies and now he does the whole things in fifteen to twenty minutes. It was an interesting challenge.

Tom Wagner

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Christina Ascher wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 18:03 GMT
Dear Tom,

Thank you so much for your beautifully written article. So much important truth in it!

Yes, yes, I remember our performances at St. John the Divine and in Valparaiso so well - and how the clarity of hearing or lack thereof made all the difference.

As ever,

Nina

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Thomas Wagner replied on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 14:19 GMT
Thanks Nina

I am slowly making progress in my notion that the underlying theory of music which, apparently few really understand, is more important to physics than formerly imagined. I am going to start putting things on a new Web page and even writing some blogs.

I am hopefully going to prove some of the tenets of the Structural Resonance paper and that should help my project considerably.

I am going to attempt to use the Internet and programs such as Kickstarter to get a performance ot The Wheat Remains. The work gets a lot of attention but if I submit it to Broadway producers I am told it is not for Broadway (I agree) but if I submit it to Opera companies I am told it is very lovely but it does not sound like an opera. What is an opera supposed to sound like?

Some year ago I refused a commission from the Met for the Wheat Remains. The Met will commission a work but they will not insure that they will produce it. I do not think would have produced this work and in that case the work would be dead. Wish me luck

Tom

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