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waterfall sounds


I found this in and old “did-you-know” book ages ago, and painstakingly copied it to the PC, word for word. And then lost it!

I was looking at a pic just now, and something suddenly jogged my memory, not sure what. Oh, yes! Karensusan63’s pic of “tete a tete again”, with her cascade in the background: I idly wondered what note-s it played, and that jogged me to see if I could find the “waterfall sounds” piece again – and there it was, hiding in plain sight in the first folder I looked in.

Messrs E and A Heim, having investigated the tones of waterfalls, state that a mass of falling water gives the chord of C sharp and also non-accordant F. When C and D sound louder than the middle notes, F is heard very fully, as a deep dull booming, far-resounding tone with a strength proportionate to the mass of falling water. It easily penetrates to a distance at which the other notes are inaudible.
The notes C, E. G, F belong to all rushing water and in great falls are sometimes in different octaves. Small falls give the same notes one or two octaves higher. In the stronger falls, F is heard most easily; in the weak ones, C. At the first attempt, C is most readily detected.

Persons with musical cultivation on attempting to sing near rapidly-moving water naturally use the key of C sharp, or of F sharp if near a great fall.

Attributed to Scribners, 1875

I wonder if anyone with both a cascade or waterfall and perfect pitch can identify which note-s their fall is “tuned” to?

Has any singer amongst you noticed that the key they sing in changes near moving water?

I wonder if a cascade could be constructed with each step of it tuned to a different note, the whole making a harmonious chord. I know there are “sad” chords, but are there “happy” or “peaceful” ones?

I suppose that the “note” of a fall depends as much on how much water goes over it as how far it drops – but it’d be interesting to think about. :-p one could play “name that tune”!

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Interesting blog, Fran. What amazes me most, I think, is that these two guys thought of investigating this in the first place!

3 Feb, 2012


nods, wonder what led them to it - maybe one of them noticed that he sang differently near a fall?

3 Feb, 2012

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