Psalm 33:2-3
Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.”

Music is an art form. Indeed, there are those who believe – and I include myself among this number – that music is the most subtle and highest form of art, most immediately able to connect with human emotions. But music can also be analyzed scientifically.

Take a musical note – for example, consider the root note A. This has a frequency of 440Hz (a hertz represents the number of waves per second). When a string vibrates at 440Hz, it also sets up harmonics of frequencies equal to whole number multiples – in our case, 880Hz (A2) and 1320Hz (E2). A half of 1320 – 660Hz – will also be an E an octave below, within the octave of A1 to A2, and is the dominant 5th note, 1.5 times the root frequency. By multiplying successive frequencies by 1.5, then dividing by powers of 2, to bring the value between A1 and A2, we should, theoretically, be able to build up the entire 12-tone chromatic scale used in Western music. However, after 12 such calculations, we get back to a value of A1 with 446Hz instead of 440Hz. Playing those notes together sounds horrible – an unpleasant dissonance. This is the reason, by the way, that it is not possible to tune a piano perfectly, and expert tuners deliberately tune a piano off slightly, using their expertise of years’ training to get the notes to sound right.

The psalmist exhorts musicians to play skillfully. Music is art and science and a God-given talent.

Prayer: It is good to sing and make music in praise of Your Name, Lord God, our King and our Redeemer. Amen.

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref: < >, accessed 11/27/2019. Image: Public Domain.

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