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Elements of Music

6 7 acoustIcs and ovErtonEs from one note to seven and beyond Any sound that can be perceived as a pitch or tone will have some periodicity in it, vibrating at a regular frequency with a specific mixture of overtone amplitudes see opposite, creating a distinctive timbre. An oboe, sitar, or piano can all play the same tone, yet sound different. The vowels A, E, I, O, and U are created by the trapping or releasing of overtones with the shape of the mouth and lips. The other component of sound, noise, has no periodicitya hammer striking, a finger plucking, a bow scraping, the sound on a television with no signal. Bands of noise are named by colour white noise, pink noise, gray noise, and are part of the musical sounds an instrument can produce. The noise component of a sound can be compared to the consonants in language, with drums as plosives, shakers as fricatives, and cymbals as sibilants. Essentially, musical sound can be described much in the way language sound can a combination of tones that vary overtone content with a noise component that initiates the sound, sometimes continues it, and occasionally also closes it, the function of consonants, with an organizing rhythm and form. Above As a string vibrates, or tube fills with air, proportional waveforms are created in wholenumber ratios that occupy the same space, giving rise to the harmonic series or overtones. Unity subdivides into infinitely smaller units. Each one of these overtones is a station or stopping point, a gravitational pole acting upon other tones nearby. Left The history of music in the West can be seen as a parallel to the overtone series, ascending upwards and incorporating more and more of the series into harmonic thought. The relative distances of the intervals also suggest the time spent exploring those intervals, a journey from iconic objectivity to interior complexity.
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