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Harmonics Music Pythagorus Universe

# Harmonics Music Pythagorus Universe

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05/06/2013

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Harmonics, Music, Pythagoras and the Universe
The following is text has been produced with permission of the participants fromconversations that took place in the group Alexandria City in August 1996. Thediscussion group is based on the city of Alexandria and so is a centre for anythingrelating to philosophy, history, music, mathematics or cosmology with particular reference to Greek knowledge. The main participants in this particular discussion werethe listmistress of Alexandria, Cynndara Morgan, Andrew Green, Joseph Milne, and me,Ray Tomes. Several others also participate.This first part contains my presentation and the following 3 pages have the discussion.Ray Tomes wrote:
Harmonics, Pythagoras, Music and the Universe
Part 1: Musical Background
After researching what notes sounded pleasant together Pythagoras worked out thefrequency ratios (or string length ratios with equal tension) and found that they had a particular mathematical relationship.The octave was found to be a 1:2 ratio and what we today call a fifth to be a 2:3 ratio.Pythagoras concluded that all the notes could be produced by these two ratios as(3/2)*(3/2)*(1/2) gave 9/8 which is a second and so on.The problem was that after applying these ratios repeatedly he was able to move throughthe whole scale and end up back where he started... except that it missed by a bit, calledthe Pythagorean comma. After twelve movements by a fifth (and adjusting down anoctave as required) he got back to the same note but it had a frequency of 3^12 / 2^19[Note ^ means to the power of] which is 1.36% higher in frequency than it should be.Although Pythagoras did a wonderful job he did get it slightly wrong. The correctsolution was worked out by Galilei (the father of the famous Galileo Galilei) whoconcluded that the best frequencies were in the proportions
do re mi fa so la ti do1 9/8 5/4 4/3 3/2 5/3 15/8 2
Which may be represented as whole number proportions as
24 27 30 32 36 40 45 48
These proportions are called the Just Intonation music scale and are the most pleasing proportions for note frequencies for any one key. The differences from Pythagoras aresmall, so that mi is 5/4 (=1.250) rather than 81/64 (=1.266).

It is interesting to look at the ratios between the notes. do-mi-so are 24-30-36 which cancancel to 4:5:6. This same proportion links the notes fa-la-do which are 32-40-48cancelling to 4:5:6. Again, so-ti-re (re from the next octave) gives 36-45-54 whichcancels to 4:5:6 again. So every note is linked to "do" by three major chords which haveratios of 4:5:6.However when music contains modulations, that is, changes of key, then some of thenotes need to change frequency. As many instruments cannot do this it was necessary tomake a compromise. Many systems were developed for this compromise and it is calledtemperament.Instruments such as pianos, guitars and trumpets have fixed frequencies while violins andthe human voice can vary to any note required.An example of a chord which requires a change is re-la which have 27-40 above. Thisneeds to change to the ratio 2:3 so either the 27 must become 26+(2/3) or the 40 must become 40+(1/2). Human voices and string quartets do this adjustment automatically because they listen for the harmony. Guitars and pianos just cannot do it hence thecompromise.Bach popularised a system called "equitempered" which is used almost exclusively today.It is a compromise between all keys and uses a common ratio between every semitone of 2^(1/12). This gives frequencies of:
equitempered 1.000 1.122 1.260 1.335 1.498 1.682 1.888 2.000just int. 1.000 1.125 1.250 1.333 1.500 1.667 1.875 2.000
which are nearly right as you can see. Bach popularised this tuning by some very clever  pieces such as the well-tempered clavier and so on. As pointed out to me by a friend, this piece is full of musical puns. In fact many times the puns have three possible meanings.My friend was reduced to rolling about the floor laughing when he attempted to playguitar chords along with a piano playing this piece.Pythagoras and his followers and later Kepler were to consider that these musicalrelations or harmonies had wider application in the universe. This idea was almostforgotten or dismissed for many centuries. However I will hope to show you that there ismuch evidence that the universe is completely organised on a system of mathematicalharmony and that it shows up in every branch of scientific study.
Part 2: Cycles Background
Back in 1977 I was using computers to try and predict various economic variables for corporations in New Zealand. In the course of doing this I found that many aspects of theeconomy showed quite clear cycles. After designing a method to search out the mostconsistent cycles they turned out to be ones with periods of 4.45, 5.9, 7.15 and ~9 years.These worked well for making forecasts.

After a while I noticed that the periods that I was using were all very near exact fractionsof 35.6 years. Also, other cycles existed at other fractions of this period such as ~12 yearsand a fraction under 4 years. The literature showed that there were other shorter cyclesknown as well as longer ones. I acquired some weekly data to look for shorter cycles andfound that there were similar patterns at shorter periods and that often they had proportions of 2 and 3 in them.Then it struck me. These fractions of 35.6 years were in fact frequencies of 4:5:6:8 whichis exactly a major chord in music. Also, the shorter cycles turned out to be exactly in the proportions of the just intonation musical scale plus a couple of back notes (E flat and Bflat if we are in the key of C).35.6/8=4.45 35.6/6=5.93 35.6/5=7.12 35.6/8=8.9 yearsI realised that the Kondratieff cycle of about 54 years also fitted in that 2*54 is very near to 3*35.6.There was of course the question "Why 35.6 years?" and the answer almost surely hadsomething to do with causes from beyond the earth. For Jupiter's orbital period is 11.86years which is very close to 35.6/3 and the node of the moons orbit takes 8.85 years totravel once around the earth. There are other astronomical periods which fit also.This was very weird and for some time I didn't tell anyone because I was sure they wouldthink I was weird. However, I heard about a place called the Foundation for the Study of Cycles in the late 1980s and visited there in 1989.Edward Dewey had formed the Foundation in about 1940 and had unfortunately died before I got there. He had left behind an enormous legacy of research into cycles. In oneof his articles I was to find the following diagram. Dewey found many relationships with proportions 2 and 3 in cycle periods starting from a period of 17.75 years, in an enormousvariety of different time series. His table of periods in years is:-
142.0 213.9 319.5 479.3-----71.0 106.5 159.8-----35.5 53.3 x2 x3---- ---- \ /17.75 \ /-----5.92 8.88---- ---- / \1.97 2.96 4.44 / \---- ---- ---- /2 /30.66 0.99 1.48 2.22---- ---- ----0.22 0.33 0.49 0.74 1.11---- ---- ---- ----
Underlined figures are commonly occurring cycles.

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