Multiple sources of background noise "harmonizing" -- who's studied this, and what did they find?
April 9, 2009 8:38 AM Subscribe
Heard an NPR story 7(ish) years ago about a guy who measures the pitch of various sources of barely-audible workspace/home background noise (eg. harddrive spinning, refrigerator compressor running, and the flyback transformer on your television)
and seeing what chords they made. He contested that different chords would affect peoples' productivity, attitudes, etc. I have some questions about this.
posted by cadastral to media & arts (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I remember it being a bit suspect -- the guy was making a living off of this -- but he was pretty modest in his claims and spoke eloquently about it. Even though it didn't make me an out-and-out believer, it made me think quite a bit about it. He was consulting various companies and offering to "tune" office background noise, claiming that it would have an effect on worker happiness. (I remember him claiming that "minor chords make people edgy".)
But the thing I'm REALLY curious about was this tangent he went on when describing his research. I remember him referencing some, like, 16th century monk (or somesuch, not sure on dates) who wrote VERY long treatises on these VERY specific emotional responses to specific chords; going so far as to say things along the lines of "B flat Major: Wistful longing with a bright, hopeful blah blah blah..." It was presented as though it was this monk's life's work/personal obsession. (I'm thinking that he was projecting a bit and probably barking up the wrong tree, but it was pretty fascinating.)
First off: anyone know who this guy is (and/or other folks who have researched similar things?). Secondly: anyone know anything about the monk he mentioned or anyone who's attempted any sort of similar... stuff? I'm not very music-theory-fluent, but I'm willing to read challenging things... Thanks a ton.
Here's where I'll make the obligatory Spinal Tap reference about D minor being the "saddest of all keys", just to get it out of the way...