Stay with me. I’m going somewhere with this.
I cannot exactly remember the first moment I looked over the audio engineer’s shoulder and saw a human voice digitally displayed in all its mathematical splendor, I just know that my world changed that day. Pro Tools was launched in 1991, the prodigy child of Evan Brooks’ 1984 Sound Designer. Sure, it was four tracks and $6,000, but it was a ticket to a new world.
As a young boy, I watched the piano tuner come to our house with his tuning fork, and well-trained ear. That tuning fork resonated at 440 Hz, basically the A above Middle C on your piano. Not important, right? Right, unless you’re a piano tuner…or any other human being.
Most of us have a vague idea that music is related to math. It has scales, meter, rhythm, etc., but the fact that sound is a mechanical wave, basically an oscillation of pressure, means not only is music all about math, but it turns out math is all about music.
When that mechanical wave gets pushed through a medium like air or water, we hear the resulting sound. Now, if that wave is going through something smooth, like a train whistle, the sound is constant and shrill. But add a few holes that you can open and close, and you’ve got a flute or a clarinet, or a valved trumpet, and suddenly it gets interesting. Then, that wave passes through the incredible array of human vocal cords, producing sounds of enormous complexity, that can beckon, agitate, soothe or awe.
Silently hold down the G key above Middle C on a piano, and then sharply strike the C key an octave below Middle C. What you clearly […]