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Would aliens have same perception of pitch?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Kevjmyers, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. Kevjmyers


    Dec 10, 2004
    Boulder. CO
    Heres a question that popped up in my head...(dont ask why!) I was curious your opinions about an alien race and their perception of pitch. Would such a race have more than the 12 tones we possess? Would it all depend on environment and ear? Or are the 12 pitches literally universal and can't be transcended? Since math is the universal language I guess that means music theory as well correct?

    This would completely change the looks of their instruments and I'd imagine there would be some pretty badass alien bassists...

    Would theory textbooks, point/counterpoint and diatonic concepts vary throughout various worlds? (LOL)

    This is merely a hypothetical music/math question...if you don't believe in aliens it doesn't matter...

    Just a thought...hey I'm drunk leave me alone!
  2. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    dude, try aa............ :p

    but seriously, who knows? 12 tones arent universal here on earth. just check out some eastern tunings, scales, etc. range of hearing may play some part in extraterrestrial music, as would differences in mathematics, perception, and a bunch of other factors. good one to google. i'm sure more than a few sci-fi novels and short stories have explored this concept.
  3. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    Wasn't there a part in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind where the aliens try to communicate with us by playing a little "symphony"? On another weird note - there is big bass in space! I remember reading an article that said some black hole is putting out this "note" that's like 20 or 30 octaves below anything recognizable by humans - that's some serious booty.
  4. One thing that would probably be common to all species that can hear is octaves.

    The black hole was a lot lower than that iirc... ah found it:

    In musical terms, the pitch of the sound generated by the black hole translates into the note of B flat. But, a human would have no chance of hearing this cosmic performance because the note is 57 octaves lower than middle-C. For comparison, a typical piano contains only about seven octaves. At a frequency over a million billion times deeper than the limits of human hearing, this is the deepest note ever detected from an object in the Universe.
  5. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Not if they were A & R guys or recording industry execs!!!!!!!
  6. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    A better question is, what were you doing drinking in the morning, anyway?
  7. Kevjmyers


    Dec 10, 2004
    Boulder. CO
    Hey it doesn't count if I haven't gone to bed yet... :eek:

    I thought sound didn't exist in the vacuum of space. Just like the Big Bang explosion (if you believe the theory) was silent. How could a black hole hum any pitch? Is it just perceived by us to be silent and just out of our range (immensely)? I thought sound was impossible in the final frontier.
  8. Space is not empty (anymore), there are gasses and small particles in space (although tiny amounts) and variations in pressure of these gasses is sound.
  9. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    i remember i went to go check out Junior Brown back in the early 90's....he's used that group of notes from Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind for a solo and worked it for about 10 minutes....the scary part was that we were all in awe - he's a great musician. man i left for home a changed man! :D
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    How about our neighborhood?
    I would imagine an explosion(s) on the Sun would render all of us into deaf Earthings.
  11. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    A pure vacuum cannot transmit sound, but the space around a black hole is usually far from empty since they suck everything around them. Like guitar players with bad timing.

    And the universe would have been at its noisiest right after the big bang, as that was when it was most dense! Pressure waves (i.e., sound) would have been bouncing around like nothing we can imagine. Things have quieted down since. Hey, maybe we're all nothing more than a big reverb tail! Whoa....
  12. Flanders


    Oct 30, 2002
    Reno, NV
    Aliens would be able to hear pitch, since it's just sound at a certain frequency. I think the 12 tones thing is just us. We just picked certain tones that sounded good to us (A440 Anyone?). It would be interesting to hear what they thought sounded good.

    ...begin cantina song from star wars...
  13. Although thee big bang would have been completely silent form the outside
  14. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    I think aliens would be able to hear pitch too, and I think certain basic mathematical relationships like octaves, and fifths, fourths, etc. would be special to them (or at least recognized by them) as well. Who knows if it would be musical to them, though -- there are lots of sounds and signals that we recognize as unique, but we might not think of them as music (like Britney Spears).

    What would be really different is spatial recognition of sounds. Since the aliens would undoubtably live in an atmosphere (or fluid) of a different density, the stereo imaging of our recordings would probably be way off for their tastes. Just like when we're underwater, we can't localize sounds because the sound is traveling faster in the water than in the air -- and our brains are hard-wired for air sound processing.

    I think maybe even more interesting than pitch is the question of rhythm: what sort of rhythms would aliens be into? Faster than we could comprehend? Slower than we could comprehend? Maybe their pop songs would last for years... or entire symphonies in a second.

    Great topic, Kev!
  15. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    True, though it may be difficult to form a concept of "outside". This is probably the ultimate formulation of the tree falling in the forest when no one is around.

    You know, Einstein was a musician, and probably would have dug string theory -- which is basically the idea that all particles are simply different "harmonics" on vibrating strings. And there are ideas that this universe is on a membrane vibrating right next to other universes (hence parallel universes). These ideas go a long way in explaining such current mysteries as to why our universe is predominantly dark matter.

    It's cool how often musical ideas come up in nature and the universe. I think it's because music is inherently mathematical, and math is indeed the language of the universe. Or geometry is. Well, you get the idea.
  16. Yes, the question is: before the big bang, was there anything one could call outside?

    Geometry IS math.
  17. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    :) Was there anything one could call "one"?

    Are you talking about all math arising from geometry? If so, I think that's pretty intriguing. Most people naturally believe geometry is just a kind of math, a subset of all that is mathematics, but there may be more to it. On Einstein again, he often believed the math was just bookkeeping, and it was the simple (i.e., geometric) pictures that were what were important. Though he did change that view as he realized mathemeticians were able to open up some new doors for physics as well.
  18. Good question.

    Actually I meant geometry as subset of mathematics, but on the other hand I have never encountered anything that cannot be represented geometrically (although sometimes 4+ dimensional geometry is required) so in a way it is a subset, which contains all mathematics (i have encountered)
  19. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Aliens... music... big bang... duuuuuuude.
  20. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    Exactly!! Which is why I said "or geometry" originally. I think your statement that geometry IS math is actually a kind of fundamental universal truth, as we may very well be living in a 4+ dimensional world (though that one's tough to stomach).

    Newton explained gravity mathematically, and incompletely; Einstein explained gravity geometrically, and *much* more completely (I'd say absolutely 'completely', but there's still the problem of reconciling general relativity with quantum mechanics, in a quantum definition of gravity). It seems in physics that when a simple geometric picture can explain a phenomenon, then it's probably the real deal.

    Sean Mc