John Grieve: Pythagorean Hammers (Legend)    
 Pythagorean Hammers (Legend)1 comment
16 Jun 2010 @ 20:37, by John Grieve


Pythagorean hammers
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According to legend, Pythagoras discovered the foundations of music by listening to the sounds of four blacksmith's hammers, which produced consonance and dissonance when they were struck simultaneously. Specifically, he noticed that hammer A produced consonance with hammer B when they were struck together, and hammer C produced consonance with hammer A, but hammers B and C produced dissonance with each other. Hammer D produced such perfect consonance with hammer A that they seemed to be "singing" the same note.

Pythagoras rushed into the blacksmith to discover why, and he found that the explanation was in the weight ratios. The hammers weighed 12, 9, 8, and 6 pounds respectively. Hammers A and D were in a ratio of 2:1, which is the ratio of the octave. Hammers B and C weighed 9 and 8 pounds. Their ratios with hammer A were (12:9 = 4:3 = musical fourth) and (12:8 = 3:2 = musical fifth). The space between B and C is a ratio of 9:8, which is equal to the musical whole tone, or whole step interval.

Using these founding intervals, it's possible to construct the basic seven-tone diatonic scale used in modern music.

[edit] References
James, Jamie The Music of the Spheres: Music, Science, and the Natural Order of the Universe. New York, Grove Press, 1993
"Pythagorean hammers" Harvard Dictionary of Music. Second Edition, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press
[edit] See also
Diatonic scale
Interval (music)
Just intonation
Equal temperament
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_hammers"



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