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list                           Mon, 13 Jul 1998           Volume 1 : Number 29

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Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 14:22:57 EDT
From: <>
Subject: wavelength and dissonance

John Bush asked about finding a chart on the relationship between notes and
wavelength, and asked for information about why dissonant intervals resonate.
You can find information about both in the 1966 Dover edition (a later edition
is still in print, I believe) of H. Lowery, A Guide to Musical Acoustics,
originally published by Dobson in 1956.

That book doesn't go into great detail.  For a more scholarly explanation with
numerous charts, see Siegmund Levarie and Ernst Levy, Tone: A Study in
Musical Acoustics, Kent State U. Press, 1968.

For a different and engrossing treatment, see also the Dover edition of George
Ashdown Audsley, The Art of Organ-Building (2 vols., originally published by
Dodd, Mead & Co. in 1905) .  See also the Dover edition of Audsley's The
Organ of the Twentieth Century (originally published by Dodd, Mead & Co. in
1919).  All three of these fat tomes are now in print and available at Borders
Books.  Audsley gives particularly good explanations of why certain bass pipes
placed too close together will throw each other out of tune, along with other
arcana not to be found anywhere that I know of except in organ technicians'
manuals.  Fair warning: anyone consulting Audsley needs to be aware that he
preferred tuning to French pitch that he notated as concert a'=435 cps (Hz),
which is flat by today's standards (a=440 Hz) and which does not correspond to
the very sharp a=457 cps used in many American orchestras at the time he
wrote.  Therefore, his math throughout needs adjustment to conform to modern
pitch.  A pain in the bass.  Also, today's organ-builders generally don't
agree with his controversial advice about organ registration and other
specifications.  However, his books contain a wealth of facts and make
fascinating reading.

Lelia Loban (


End of list V1 #29

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