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Music Theory and Wind-Chimes


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I went through the entire store I work at today testing each wind-chime and they were all tuned to C major.

BORING!

I had my boss ask the company we get them from about "alternately tuned" wind-chimes and they had no idea what we were talking about, so I figured I'd buy one and change the length of the chimes to produce more interesting harmonizations. Minor, Lydian, anything besides the Ionic mode.

Here's the problem:

The largest number of chimes any of them have is 7, tuned as follows:

C D E G A B C

Notice that there is no 4th! This makes things a bit tricky. Also, I can only SUBTRACT length from the chimes which means I can only INCREASE the pitch. The smallest chime is already only about 3 inches so the range is limited to only about 1.5 octaves, probably the highest note being an F. Obviously, the lowest root note out of any configuration is C.

I'd like to keep the octave interval so the mode is recognizable at least somewhat. I've worked out a few configurations but I know there's a lot of nerdy music geeks on ocr that would love this type of problem (as do I :D). I'd make my own windchimes but I can't find any metal pipes that sound pleasing.

Looking forward to some feedback,

-pakka

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Oshit. Let's see here.

Phrygian has half-steps on 1 & 2, and 5 & 6.

C D E F G A B C

That's Ionian, so we changed it to...

C Db Eb F G Ab Bb C

And you only have these notes...

C D E G A B C

So...let's make it start on D instead.

D Phrygian:

D Eb F G A Bb C D

Change the notes like so:

D|Eb|F|A|Bb|C|D

C|D |E|G|A |B|C

Enjoy your new windchimes in D Phrygian. I would have no idea how to cut them up, though, so good luck with that. Post us a sound when you complete them.

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The thing about modes is that they're for melodic purposes, not harmonic, hence if two chimes play a semi-tone apart (such as B and C) you will get a somewhat unpleasant dissonance. I think your best bet is to go with a pentatonic scale such as E G A B D and double whichever notes you think might sound nice. I think E G A B D E G would work well, but it would be good to experiment.

Another great sounding pentatonic scale (that’s also easy to improvise in) is D F G A C, so check that one out too.

If you are really adventurous, try a whole-tone scale.

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Whole tone scale would be cool.

As far as cutting them goes, I'm sure you know how frequencies work. If you double the frequency, you get an octave difference. If you halve the length, you also get an octave difference.

So, you can jack this table (second one) from wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_temperament#Cent_values_of_equal_temperament

Take one divided by the values in the "Decimal Value" column to get the length ratios you want.

Sorry if you already knew this. It sounds from your opening post that you might have.

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Good point, Sil, but wind-chimes are both melodic and harmonic. It's pretty random, so I don't mind in there's a half-step in there.

Speaking of pentatonic, I suppose a blues scale would work perfectly since it has exactly 7 tones (including the octave), but then again I think all those half-steps would sound really bad like you said.

lol wholetone! I haven't tought of that. That would be a pretty impressionistic windchime. Actually the first thing that came to mind was a diminished scale since it's so different compard to the major scale most windchimes outline, but the intervals are so large I think it would go out of the range I'm limited too.

jesus crap, that's another 2 more windchimes I'll have to make to satisfy my curiosity. anyone else fell like giving this a whirl too?

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Does the wikipedia entry also account for the "adjustment factor" needed in, say... pipe organs? I checked out the page, however, I still don't know if it has it in there or not. Coming straight from theory, you should be able to calculate directly what the length should be. However, if you do this then it won't sound quite "right." I know this might be just hearsay, but I spoke to a pipe-organ tuner on the subway once about this kind of stuff while studying for a physics test.

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Does the wikipedia entry also account for the "adjustment factor" needed in, say... pipe organs? I checked out the page, however, I still don't know if it has it in there or not. Coming straight from theory, you should be able to calculate directly what the length should be. However, if you do this then it won't sound quite "right." I know this might be just hearsay, but I spoke to a pipe-organ tuner on the subway once about this kind of stuff while studying for a physics test.

I think most cathedral organs use "Just Intonation," which is on there. Basically, their chords have a purer sound, but if they want to play in anything other than the key they're tuned to, they sound out-of-tune compared with other instruments. That would explain why it wouldn't sound right. Really, the same would apply pianos too, but pianos have to be toned to equal temperament because they are used for accompaniment so often.

Also, an organ's A isn't usually 440Hz. That's about all that I know. Or guess, really.

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I plan on using a little math to get approximate cuts, then fileing it down untill it sounds correct. I'll get around to it this weekend, but I still haven't decided what configuration to use. I think I'm leaning towards the whole tone idea. Of course, I'll have to do more than one :D there's just too many applications that sound like really good ideas.

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You may like the idea of using some 5 note scales, such as Chinese and Egyptian stylings, with use of octaves (C D E G A) and (C D F G A#) respectively. I'd personally love to hear this done, but thats just me..

Another 5 note scale with you might use could be Pentatonic Majeur (C D E G A). Another thing you may be interested in doing (which also is personally appealing to me haha) is to try out some arpeggio style scales (Major 9th).

I was thinking, you may want to shorten the low C, in this case I've assumed it's been shorted so it's now a C#, in this form you can use the Enigmatic scale (C# D F G A B C) if you shorten the E and make it an F. Some other stuff possible, Iwato scale (C# D F# G B) and the Hirajoshi scale (C# D# E G# A). Anyhow, once you change the pitch of the low C, obviously there's alot more options, sorry I didn't keep to the octave interval rule aswell..

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Am I the only one who thinks it would be cool to just make a straight up chromatic scale windchime?

Heh nope, I was having a think about it, it may not sound "good" while it's actually being blown around by the wind, but it'd come in handy to use as an instrument anytime heh.

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What you've got now is a major pentatonic scale now plus the major 7th scale degree. C D E - G A - C sound pretty consonant together, and the 7th gives the chimes a bit more melodic feel. The 4th would make it sound a little too full for most people's taste.

If they were mine, I would change the C chime to an F and the G chime to a D. That would give you:

D E F - A B C D

...a nice Dorian sound. Just playing it on the piano makes me want to try it myself.

EDIT: That is, change the lower C to a F.

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