Blog Archives

What key has 30 sharps?

Musical keys typically have 0 to 7 sharps or flats, but we can imagine adding any number of sharps or flats. When you go up a fifth (seven half steps) you add a sharp. For example, the key of C

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How to convert frequency to pitch

I saw somewhere that James Earl Jones’ speaking voice is around 85 Hz. What musical pitch is that? Let P be the frequency of some pitch you’re interested in and let C = 261.626 be the frequency of middle C.

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New Twitter accounts for DSP and music theory

I’ve started two new Twitter accounts this week: @DSP_fact and @MusicTheoryTip. DSP_fact is for DSP, digital signal processing: filters, Fourier analysis, convolution, sampling, wavelets, etc. MusicTheoryTip is for basic music theory with a little bias toward jazz. It’ll tweet about

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Playing Beethoven too slowly

Toward the end of his life, Beethoven added metronome markings to the scores of his symphonies to indicate exactly how fast they should be performed. The tempos indicated in the scores are consistently faster than how the symphonies are usually

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Free Bach recordings

James Kibbie has recorded Bach’s complete organ works and Kimiko Ishizaka has recorded his Goldberg Variations. Both artists have made their recordings free for download.

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All day long I'd bidi-bidi-bum

This evening I watched my daughter in Fiddler on the Roof. I thought I knew the play pretty well, but I learned something tonight. Before the play started, someone told me that the phrase “bidi-bidi-bum” in “If I Were a

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2012 is prime …

… as a base-three number. 2012 in base 3 is 59 in base 10. 2012 is also prime as a base-five number. Update: Here’s some Mathematica code to find other bases where 2012 is prime. f[n_] := 2 n^3 +

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John Coltrane versus Kenny G

My previous post began with a story about a performance by John Coltrane. Douglas Groothuis left a comment saying that he used the same story in his book Truth Decay. Before telling the Coltrane story, Groothuis compares the philosophies of

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Nunc dimittis

In his book The Call, Os Guinness tells the following story of John Coltrane. After one utterly extraordinary rendition of “A Love Supreme,” Coltrane stepped off the stage, put down his saxophone, and said simply “Nunc dimittis.” … Coltrane felt

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Odd meter music

The post Music in 5/4 time continues to get a regular stream of traffic over two years after it was posted. Check out the interesting links in the comments. See also March in 7/4 time and Blue Rondo à la

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Accelerated learning

Derek Sivers tells how a mentor was able to teach him a semester’s worth of music theory in three hours. His mentor also prepared him to place out of four more classes in four sessions. He gives the details in

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Ten music posts

Ten previous blog posts on music. Odd meters Music in 5/4 time Blue Rondo à la Turk March in 7/4 time Music and computers Typesetting music in LaTeX with LilyPond Windows XP and Ubuntu start-up music Music and math Opening

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Screwtape on music and silence

From Screwtape, the senior demon of The Screwtape Letters: Music and silence — how I detest them both! … no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces,

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Windows XP and Ubuntu start-up music

I just realized that the start-up music for Ubuntu is a variation on the start-up music for Windows XP. (You can hear the Ubuntu theme in this video at around 0:10. The Windows XP theme is in this video at

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Eclectic mix podcast

If you’re looking for a way to discover some new music, check out Eclectic Mix. The show lives up to its name, featuring all kinds of music. For example, here’s a show with Latin Giants of Jazz and here’s one

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