An Intellectually Engaging Idea
For a musician, Rychard Cooper had a dreadful monotone voice. He mispronounced names frequently and walked around without shoes. But he was brilliant. Cooper was the Music Composition and Technology Coordinator at California State Summer School for the Arts, and what he had to say was important. Yet most of his music students could not help sinking further into the multi-colored bean bags his classroom provided and letting our minds wander. It was a warm, lazy Thursday morning, and just as my thoughts began to drift toward what I was going to have for lunch, one word brought me back: frequency.
Cooper began pointing to various amplitude wave graphs on his overhead. “The flute is the closest thing to a pure sine wave. The pitch of an electric current is somewhere between a B and a B flat, and white noise is all frequencies at random amplitudes.” A single pitch rang throughout the room from Rychard’s computer as his voice cut through the sound. “This is resonance. This is the only frequency whose sine wave fits perfectly between the two walls of this room.” The world of music began to truly open to me as I began to question the definition of sound and grew eager to discover how altering frequencies can create pitches beyond the traditional Western scales. Before last summer, all I knew was that when I pressed middle C on a concert grand, middle C was the sound that came out. I did not contemplate why. Music is the ultimate union of science and art. My understanding of it broadens my understanding of the world.