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Basic Music for Engineers

HARMONIC ELEMENTS


HARMONIC ELEMENTS are tonal and have pitch.

SOUND WAVES CREATE PITCH (TONE).  The faster the sound wave, the higher the pitch. 
When a sound’s pitch increases until it is a perfect multiple of the starting pitch, the note has a similar but higher sound.  This is called an OCTAVE.  The pitch differences between octave points are mapped out into different SCALES.

Most cultures around the world use scales that have been made up from specific subdivisions of an octave.  Some scales have developed along with regional musical instruments.  There are “primitive” tribes that do not use a standard scale system at all (each tribe member tunes their instrument so it plays a note that sounds good compared to the chief’s note even if it clashes with another tribe member).

Western music is based on scales and chords made up from notes along those scales.  There is a great amount of musical emotion in different combinations and sequences of musical notes, and in the way instruments approach and trail away from notes.  Consider the emotions expressed in a human voice, saxophone, blues harp, violin, guitar or other instruments that play between notes or approach notes from above/below. 

Instruments such as piano get additional expression from dynamics, because the sound changes along with the volume as you play harder.

In Bulgaria there is a choral group that specializes in singing MICROTONES (tones between standard notes).  The chords made with microtonal notes have more varied expressiveness than chords made with only western scaled notes.