grave harmonic

Mathematicians have not recognized the life-power of the notes, and so they have misapplied their calculations, though these were perfect in themselves. Assuming the place of dictators, they say with an air of authority that, "strictly speaking, nothing could be more scientifically and musically untrue than the chromatic scale of twelve equal semitones as played on a tempered instrument; for in it, as in the diatonic scale, the same natural law prevails that no two tones of equal mathematical relations can melodically succeed each other." Saying that the same natural law prevails implies that they are reasoning from analogy; but in this assumption they are dictating to Nature. In a similar way they might assume that the interval of the octave, like the other intervals, should have a grave harmonic.2 But the fact that the octave interval has not a [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 36]

A grave harmonic is a secondary note which spontaneously arises when two different notes are sounded together. It is a note whose mathematical number is the difference of the two which awaken it; e.g., F2 and C3, the interval of the fifth, awakens a grave harmonic whose number is 1, which is the difference of 2 and 3; and this 1 strengthens F2, for it is its lower octave. But the interval of F2 and F4, or any other octave, does not awaken a grave harmonic, since there is no difference-number between the two. - Editor. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 36]

grave harmonic, while all the other intervals have, shows that the natural laws are not confined to one style of working.
When the major scale has been generated, with its three chords, the subdominant, tonic, and dominant, by the primary mathematical ratios, it consists of forms and orders which in themselves are adapted to give outgrowth to other forms and orders by the law of duality and other laws. All the elements, orders, combinations, and progressions in music are the products of natural laws. The law of Ratio gives quantities, form, and organic structure. The law of Duality gives symmetry, producing the minor mode in response to the major in all that belongs to it. The laws of Permutations and Combinations give orders and rhythms to the elements. The law of Affinity gives continuity; continuity gives unity; and unity gives the sweetness of harmony. The law of Position gives the notes and chords their specific levities and gravities; and these two tendencies, the one upward and the other downward, constitute the vital principle of music. This is the spiritual constitution of music which the Peter Bell mathematicians have failed to discern: [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 37]

which seems to show that not only has one part of a vibrating string sympathy with another part of it so as to go into harmonic partials, as we have just seen, but as if the very air itself had sympathy with harmoniously vibrating strings; for Tartini observed that two harmonious sounds being produced and sustained as they can be, for example, by a strong bow on the violin, a third sound will be heard. Tartini's name for it was simply "a third sound." This is not an overtone, as Helmholtz has called the harmonic partials of one sounding string, but an undertone, because it is a "grave harmonic," away below the sounds of the two strings which awaken it. The subject of these undertones has been carefully studied since Tartini's day, and more insight has been obtained since we are now able to count and register the vibration of any musical sound. Helmholtz has called these third sounds of Tartini's "difference sounds," because when awakened by two strings, for example, the vibration-number of the third tone is the difference of the vibrations-numbers of the two tones which awaken it. The note C with vibration-number 512, and another C whose vibration-number is 256, the octave, awakened no third sound, because there is no difference between the two numbers - the one is just the doubled or halved; but if we take C256 and G381, its fifth, the difference number is 128; this being a low octave of C256, it has the effect of strengthening the upper one. Helmholtz found this to be the law of the third sound as to its producing, and the effect of it when produced. This third sound, mysteriously arising in the air through the sympathy it has with all concordant things, is another among many more suggestions that the whole Creation is measured and numbered to be in sympathy one part with another. The Creation is a universe. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 60]

The individual character of any note, and the comparative degree of contrast between any two notes in the system, depends on at least three different causes. The first is the genetic relation of the two notes. If the one note has 2 vibrations and the other 3, or the one 4 and the other 5, or the one 5 and the other 8, because of this, and because of the excess of the vibration of the one over the other, "a third sound" or "grave harmonic" being awakened between them, the different ratios have different degrees of complexity, and, in a general way, the greater the complexity the greater the [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 60]

contrast. In the fifth, the ratio being 2:3, the excess of 3 above 2 is 1; this 1 bears a simple relation to both the notes which awaken it. The grave harmonic in this case gives the octave below the lower of the two sounds; 1 is an octave below 2. This is the simplest relation "a third sound" can have to the two which awaken it, and that is why the fifth has the smallest possible degree of contrast. The octave, the fifth, and the fourth may be reckoned as simple ratios; the major and minor thirds and their inversions as moderately complex; the second, which has the ratio of 9:10, and the major fourth F to B and its inversion, are very complex. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 61]

Music, and mathematics have nothing more to do with it. Already the Law of Position has guided the genesis upward in the major; and while mathematical primes were generating the chords one after another in precisely the same way and form, like peas in a pod, the Law of Position was arranging them one over the other, and so appointing them in their relative position each its own peculiar musical effect bright and brighter. And when the major had been thus evolved and arranged by ratios and position, another law, the Law of Duality, gave the mathematical operation its downward direction in the minor; and while the primes which measured the upward fifths of the major also measure the downward fifths of the minor, the Law of Position is placing them in their relative position, and appointing each its own peculiar effect grave and graver. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 68]

the excess of the vibrations of the one note over the other makes one or more sounds which are called "grave harmonics;" e.g., in the interval of the fifth, in the ratio of 2:3, the excess of 3 over 2 is 1, so the grave harmonic is an octave below the lowest of the two notes, that is, the ratio of 1:2. This reinforces the lowest note, 2, and gives it a solid effect. In this way the octave is incorporated into the fifth, and unity with variety is combined with the law of continuity at the very threshold of harmony. In 32 of the 42 intervals the grave harmonics are notes which belong to the natural scale. In the 10 remaining intervals which have not the exact number of vibrations found anywhere in the natural scale, 6 of them are from the number 7, thus - 7, 7, 7, 21, 21, 35; the remaining 4 are from 11, 13, 13, and 19. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 77]

musical vibrations in both acute and grave harmonics, generate a concentration of mighty action, an ever-outgoing of Nature's own power, so that she, by her own laws of vibratory motion, can reproduce and perpetually maintain outgoing power of action; and, again, play in perfect harmony her grand fugue with these tremendous all-resolving forces in that high and hidden and silent region in which Mr. Keely is experimenting. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 87]

See Also

acute harmonics
Difference Tone
Figure 8.6 - Difference Tones
law of the third sound
Power of Beat Harmonics
third sound

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Friday December 4, 2020 05:29:10 MST by Dale Pond.