Audio footnotes for ‘Why Does Barber’s Adagio Break My Heart?’

Sample audio/video to accompany Why Does Barber’s Adagio Break My Heart? 

Ch 3: Every Pitch is a Chord Ch 8: Beautiful Strangers
Ch 4: Painting with Sound Ch 9: Major Happy, Minor Sad
Ch 5: Dissonance is Delicious Ch 10: Chutes and Ladders
Ch 6: What Have the Romans Ch 11: Color of Sound
Ch 7: Home and Neon Arrow  Ch 12: Slicing Up Time


Ch 3. Every Pitch is a Chord

1  p. 11: The low C recording:

2   p. 12: When Dorothy sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz, the first two notes (“Some-where…”) are an octave apart.

3 p. 14: To demonstrate that these vibrations are anything but theoretical, here is a stunning visual capture of string vibration. (The format of the digital recording causes them to look slower than they actually are, which is why we can see them at all. It’s the same effect as a spoked hubcap on the freeway appearing to slow down, stop, then spin backwards.)

4 When you play a C, you actually hear all of these pitches as a small but real fraction of the sound. Here are the notes all together.

5  Traditional singers in Tuva, a tiny Russian state in southern Siberia, have perfected a kind of “throat song” by which they can suppress the fundamental and cause the overtones to come whistling through. It is one of the most remarkable musical sounds on Earth. (Watch the singer on our left.)

Bonus:  Hear the second overtone as an eerie hoo oo oo hoo oo oo above these mouth harps:

6  The low C again:

7  The notes to listen for:

8  The crazy rare B-extra-flat to listen for:


Ch 4. Painting With Sound

p. 22: Here are the 12 half steps of the chromatic scale again (plus the C in the next octave):


p. 22: A scale with nothing but whole steps from bottom to top is a whole tone scale:

p. 22: Whenever there was a campy flashback in The Brady Bunch, or Scooby Doo was being hypnotized, there’s a good chance a harp or keyboard was playing music based on a whole tone scale:

p. 22: One particular Debussy piano piece called Voiles (Sails) is the go-to for illustrating a whole tone scale.

p. 25: His “Major to Minor Project” turned “I Will Always Love You,” a tribute to undying love, into a soundtrack of dark obsession:


CHAPTER 6. Consonance is Nice. Dissonance is Delicious




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