On Beach Walk: No. 28

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Because music has been part of my life for many years, I think about the many musical instruments – let alone adding voices to the mix.

I think of the many instruments – brass, strings, woodwinds, percussion, and keyboards.

I think of all the instruments that are variations on a theme – as instruments causing vibrations so the air can transmit their designated tones to our ears.

I think of the vibrations caused by striking, plucking, picking, strumming, bowing, vibrating reeds, fingers and hands changing the length of columns of air, or influencing vibrating strings of different lengths, diameters, and composition – many times followed by boxes collecting the waves to distribute its resonated result into the air for transmission.

I think of all the unique instruments of global cultures – most of which are variations of other instruments found elsewhere – yet deliver something unique.

I think of a guitar – six strings of different diameters with the player’s fingers changing the length of each string to create the notes – unique vibration of air at different frequencies that nobody can initially hear.

I think about the created vibrations transferring into the guitar’s body where it resonates before exiting through a large opening. Along with string’s material, the body’s shape, type of wood, and it thickness are factors determining the final outcome that we initially cannot hear.

I think about the outer ear collecting the sound waves then the inner ear converts them into nerve messages. These are the messages that nerves transmit to the brain for interpretation – Now we hear the music.

Even without words, music speaks to each of us as it engages our soul, stimulates our minds, moves our imagination, and sparks different emotions.

One could say that music is magical – just like walking the beach that is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On an Unexpected Beauty

Knowledge is soon changed, then lost in the mist, an echo half-heard. (Gene Wolfe, writer)
Music is the harmonious voice of creation; an echo of the invisible world. (Giuseppe Mazzini, activist)
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Fame is the echo of actions, resounding them to the world, save that the echo repeats only the last art, but fame relates all, and often more than all. (Thomas Fuller, clergyman)
If you’re in a forest, the quality of the echo is very strange because echoes back off so many surfaces of all those trees that you get this strange, itchy ricochet effect. (Brian Eno, musician)
I recently saw this 5+-minute report from CBS News about a place that is old, but special – simple, yet complex – beautiful, yet haunting. All this equals a sum of amazing. Enjoy.

On a Falling Tree

Everyone knows this riddle: If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Here is the good news – I will answer the question. – However, the bigger question is will you agree?

The key is in the definition of two key words: sound and sound waves. The question is whether one considers these two terms as the same or different.

Sounds waves are sequence of a repeating pattern of high and low pressure waves passing through a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma. Waves can be of different frequencies, the number of repeated waves over a period of time (usually seconds). Think of different musical notes having different frequencies.

Sound is the interpretation of sound waves. From an organism’s point of view, in order for sound to occur, the organism needs a mechanism that converts sound waves into nerve impulses that are another mechanism translates them into a sound.

Does a dog whistle make sound waves? Unquestionably yes. Does it make sound? To a dog, yes – but to humans, no.

Does the symphony make sound waves? Yes. Does a totally deaf person in attendance hear the sound? No – not to them; but to one with healthy hearing, yes.

Therefore, the falling tree unquestionably produces sound waves – but if nothing is there that is capable of translating sound waves, there is no sound.