Home > Uncategorized > The World of The Seven-Alphabets

The World of The Seven-Alphabets

Can you imagine yourself living in a world with only 7 alphabets around? The seven are A B C D E F G.

Hmm… Maybe you’ll get a better idea if I arrange them like this: C D E F G A B?

Yeah, those are musical symbols for music notes. I have no idea why the early musicians chose these seven letters and this post is not going to talk about that history anyway. But here we are, living in a world with music being represented with 7-letters.

Are you a musician or a singer?  Have you ever tried to be one? Maybe not all of us are musicians or singers but we all listen to songs, don’t we?

What is “music” by the way? According to dictionary.com, “music” is “an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.” Alright, we know that one. Next is, what is a sound? I’m not looking up for dictionary result on this. Basically any sound that we hear everyday is a longitudinal wave that traverse in the air with certain frequencies. And every musical note has its own vibration frequency. The standard A that is used as the concert pitch has a frequency of 440 Hertz, or 440 vibrations per second. The complete frequency list of every note is listed here.

Why am I saying all these technical stuffs? Because I want to show that actually there is a lot of science involved in music. In fact, music is a result of a series of physics phenomenon, starting from the instrument itself whether it is a piano, guitar, or others. The construction of a guitar is so much dependent on the Mersenne’s Law. Those frets on the guitar neck are spaced out with certain distances (they are not equally spaced out if you notice) so that the frequencies created will be that of musical notes.

The harmonic sound (guitarists do this all the time, harmonic sounds are on 0:07, 1:16, 1:24, 2:46, and 2:53) has a science explanation too. It doesn’t just happen. It happens because it follows science rules.

Lastly, I want to ask another question: Have you ever experienced only hearing the electric bass sound of a group band while the whole band is playing? I have had that experience. And normally you can only hear low frequency sounds from afar. Only when you get nearer, you can hear them all. This, again, is a result of higher amplitude wave travels further.

I found all these interesting and amusing that music is actually an application of science! However, a lot of musicians may not be well aware of this fact. The question is, is it important for musicians to understand the relation of music and science? Or we can also generalize the issue: Is it important for people in general to understand how things actually work despite of the fact that they have already been using them everyday?

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  1. February 13, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Hey Anthony. I think you raise an interesting point and I agree with you, I don’t believe many people while listening to music really appreciate the science behind what they’re hearing. I think that the musicians themselves,if anyone, are probably more inclined to think about it, but even they probably don’t think about it too much. I imagine some do though, I wonder if it influences the type of music they produce? All in all, I don’t think it’s too important for musicians (or people in general) to understand how the things they interact with everyday actually work in a scientific manner. Not that I’m saying they shouldn’t make an attempt to learn it at some point, just that I believe your favorite artists would probably be making the same music regardless of their knowledge behind what’s actually making the sounds they’re producing. Just like I’m typing this right now on a laptop, even though I hardly know anything about the science that allowed for the technology to power it, make it, or anything along those lines.

  2. xavierholmes
    February 13, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Hey I think this a cool topic and a really interesting point but I don’t really feel like musicians should be obligated to learn the science behind sound. Having to learn music theory, composition, and being proficient on your instrument (etc) is already quite a lot for one person to do. For a musician to have to learn the science behind sound would be like a bird having to learn about aerodynamics. However if you’re a musician its definitely something you should keep in mind especially after you’ve mastered the technical aspects of actually producing music.

  3. February 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    if mathematics plays an important role in science, yes Music IS science. But I am not convinced if “music” is a product of science. I simply believe that we have enough technology to apply science into music and re-discover sound in different way.
    When notes and staff notation were created, I do not think people had enough”science,” to figure out music through Hertz and waves.

    I think there is a difference when a musicians says ” hey the sound is unbalanced and it does not sound correct to me,” and scientists says “the sound of the electric Bass has higher longitude than the other instruments and we need to lower that.”
    Well trained musicians knows the chords and sounds by their ear, and body, not by their brains and calculation.
    But it is amazing to see how much we can apply science into our entertainment.

  4. ProfMyers
    February 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Xavier, I love the turn of phrase, “like a bird having to learn about aerodynamics”! What does this suggest about scientific knowledge? Does this reveal that we can intuit science from experience? Or does it reveal the distinction between applied and theoretical knowledge?

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