Monday, February 4, 2019

Posting with frequency...

It's been quiet here on the blog since the summer of fugues, but as infrequently as I've been posting, I'm back for the first time in 2019 with a post about frequencies. This will not be a long post, but perhaps it will kickstart something.

One reason I haven't posted as much lately is because of a new job that involves a lot of time talking to middle school boys about music. It's satisfying work, but can leave me mentally drained, and I'm still coming to terms with how to meet certain challenges. (As it happens, this blog began when I was tasked with teaching a broad-based, freshman arts lecture course and confronting all sorts of questions about why I love what I love; this new work may well inspire more of the same - or destroy my soul.)

So it is that, having spent some time teaching these students how pitch, frequencies, octaves, consonance, and dissonance (and singing and musical meaning!) interrelate, I realized it would be nice to have a tool that quickly shows and demonstrates pitch/frequency relationships, both visually and aurally. I spent yesterday' Super Bowl pre-game time putting something together - still a work-in-progress, but it does the job.

It helped a lot that someone had already created a nice little virtual keyboard on Scratch*, so all I had to do was add some interactive features to display pitch/frequency information for each key played and to show the ratio of any two pitches, which can then be heard played together. For my students, the main point is to reinforce how octave relationships are based on 2:1 ratios, but it's also just a fun quick way to interact with pitches, and our class Smartboard makes it easy to have students come try this out on the big screen.Do they care yet about our ear's ability to distinguish between a 2:1 ratio and a 1.78:1 ratio? Stay tuned!

You can try this project out here or by clicking on the image below:


* I went through a big Scratch phase a few years back. Here are links to some of my more successful experiments:

No comments: