Background Notes - Some Introductory Concepts for the...

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Some Introductory Concepts for the Science of Music Jeffrey B. Bindell Keith Koons A man (or woman) picks up a flute that has been crafted from the femur bone of a cave bear and begins to play. The sound of the music seems distant yet familiar. The tones are those of the pentatonic 1 scale, a scale that seems to pervade the music of many cultures worldwide. The cave in which the music is being performed is located in Slovenia. The flute, recently discovered, has been scientifically dated to be at least 40,000 years old. The musician (craftsman) has been identified as most likely Neanderthal. His name, if he had one, is lost. What we can glean from this scenario is that music is very old; older than “civilization” itself. But how did we date the flute? How do we know that this flute was actually crafted rather than being formed by the teeth of another cave bear chomping down on it to puncture holes in order to suck the nourishing marrow from the recently deceased femur owner? How do we know that this flute was played using the pentatonic scale? How do we know what it sounded like? The answer is simple: the application of various aspects of modern science 2 . Because the science of music includes a great deal of physics and because physics speaks in the language of mathematics (numbers) and graphics, these introductory notes are meant to be a brief discussion of those aspects of these topics that will be important as we navigate through this fascinating topic. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with college level algebra and will not develop hives when some simple concepts of trigonometry are mentioned. With this simple caveat, we begin a discussion of simple graphs. In order to begin a study of the Science of Music we first must review some important issues, in some of which you may already be proficient. We include the following: the nature of graphs, large and small numbers and a simple introduction to logarithms. It is a well known fact that investing in stocks is a good way to grow your financial assets over a long period of time. There are two ways to do this. The first is to pick a stock because you like its name (Enron is a neat name) or you can study a stock’s past performance and look into other aspects of the company’s business. The more you know about a stock the better your investment decision can be. Sometimes it is a good idea to look at the value of a particular group of stocks to get an idea if it is a good time to invest your savings. The “Dow Jones Industrial Average” is a good index of the overall 1 This scale is created when only the black notes of a piano are struck in order. 2 It should be noted that the bone flute has not been universally accepted as a musical instrument. Science generally works like that and it takes a great deal of agreement and substantiation before a scientific theory is fully accepted. As of this writing most people agree as to its identity. Others don’t.
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Background Notes - Some Introductory Concepts for the...

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