February 02nd, 2016
The beginning of Sonic Geometry….
Every once in a while I will hear a small voice, a voice that creeps into my consciousness from I’m not sure where, and suggests or tells me things that I know are not my own thoughts. It doesn’t happen often, which is probably a good thing, but when it does I make sure to listen as closely and attentively as I can. One such occasion of this happened in August of 2012. I was sitting in my office doing some mundane office thing, when suddenly I heard a whisper telling me to draw a triangle, write down the sum total of that triangle, then play that sum as vibration cycles per second. The last part sounds complicated but is not, as there are many tone-generating smartphone apps where you can punch in whatever number you want to hear as a tone.
And so I did… no big deal. But no sooner had I heard that first hum through my phone that I got the commission to keep going, to draw the next most-logical geometric shape, and play the sum total of its interior angles. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that the square’s total of 360 (4 angles of 90 degrees each) was revealed to be a perfect octave above the first note. This makes sense if you know that doubling the numerical value of a tone creates the same tone only twice as high in pitch, but I was not really thinking in those terms at the moment.
When I kept going, something truly profound happened: The next shape, a pentagon totaling 540 degrees, created a harmonic 5th of the first tone. Hmmmm…. That was interesting to be sure. Quickly I drew and found the sum totals of all the primary geometric shapes: the hexagon’s 720, septagon’s 900 and octagon’s 1080, and when I played them together I heard the most pleasing combination of tones – a numerically perfect major chord. This is the chord that angels sing and trumpets play to announce the arrival of royalty, the chord that just “feels right” to us and conveys a sense of peace and, of course, harmony.
Excited by my “discovery,” which I was quite had been discovered many times before me, I nearly sprinted to my computer to learn more about this fascinating connection between geometry and harmonic frequencies. I was eager to learn more, ready and willing to devour any information I could find on the internet. Surely there were dozens, hundreds, thousands of bits of information about this, right?
Nope. I could not find one. No matter what I typed, I could not find one article or video relating geometry to frequency. How could this be? Hadn’t I heard lectures where people actually used the words geometry and frequency in the same sentence? And if this was true, why would someone not take the leap to actually play the number of geometry as frequency? This was a strange moment for me to be sure, a moment that I will never forget. On that day in August of 2012, my life was about to take a direction I could never have imagined, lead me to people I would not otherwise have met and opened me up to a whole new world of discovery.
About Eric Rankin