musical sound

"The perfect character of a musical sound is the result of the harmonious workings of the vibrations of the "perfectly elastic" air with the perfectly elastic string." [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 24]

dividing itself by 2 or 3 or 5, etc., up through the whole geometrical series of numbers, not keeping fixed at one thing; but while the whole length is vibrating the fundamental partial, it keeps shifting the still nodes along its length, and sometimes longer and sometimes shorter segments are sounding the other partials which clothe the chief sound. It has been commonly said that "a musical sound is composed of three sounds," for every ear is capable of hearing these three, and with a little attention a few more than these; but many will be startled when told that there are twenty-five sounds in that sound. Eighteen of them are simply the octaves of the other seven, all of these seven except one having one or more octaves in the sound. Four of the seven also are very feeble, the one which has no octave being the feeblest of all. Two of the other three are so distinctly audible along with the chief partial that they gave rise to the saying we have quoted about a musical sound being composed of three sounds.1 If the three most pronounced partials were equally developed in one sound, it could not be called one sound - it would decidedly be a chord; and when in the system they do become developed, they form a chord; but in the one sound they, the partials, having fewer and fewer octaves to strengthen them, fade away in the perspective of sound. The sharp seventh, which in the developed system has only one place, not coming into existence until the sixth octave of the genesis, is by far the feeblest of all the partials, and Nature did well to appoint it so. These harmonics are also sometimes called "overtones," because they are higher than the fundamental one, which is the sound among the sounds, as the Bible is the book among books. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 59]

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]

3 - In the third sphere, vibrating things, molecules, atoms, etc. gaseous, liquid, or solid have tensions and forces far beyond the requirements of music, and far above the audible region where musical sounds have been located by the Great Numberer. The multiplication of forces there, and their augmentation derived from sympathy, of which sympathy we have faint illustrations in the region of [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 86]

There are seven differential and eleven proximate periods all differing in their degrees of complexity according to the individual character of the ratio; and they illustrate to the eye what is the effect in the ear of the same ratios in the rapid region of the elastic vibrations which cause the musical sounds. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music,page 106]

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Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Wednesday December 23, 2020 03:27:27 MST by Dale Pond.