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August 2011

Playing with the Blimp

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Like any modern city, Akron, Ohio has no shortage of drones and noise. One of the more unique drones is the blimp which is often meandering around overhead. The goal of the exercise was to record a slice of typical blimp drone and create a chart of fundamental frequencies you would need to play along with the blimp in major and minor keys but in most of the slices of the blimp field recordings I analyzed, the blimp drone was generally concert tuned. At least, that is how my ears heard it. Below are two slices from the same field recording, G# and A were the fundamental frequencies. Things like Doppler effect, Blimp speed and humidity would all play into dominant pitch of the drone but generally, it seemed to be around G# and A in my recordings. So if you are a musician aching to jam with a blimp (and who isn’t?), those might be good starting points.

Here is a list of frequencies for the notes of a standard equal tempered concert tuned instrument (A = 440Hz).
Here is a cool tool to get the frequencies of notes relative to non concert tuned pitched (A <> 440Hz).

A harmonically complex drone that seems to have a fundamental frequency close to a concert tuned pitch can likely be forced to that nearest concert tuned note in the listener’s mind but without a reference point (ie music playing) this likely would not happen. The maximum deviation would vary from listener to listener. I remember reading about a blind french mathematician who studied note intervals and would drive his test subjects (mostly musicians) crazy with intervals so slight, most people could not detect them. I am having trouble re-finding the article. If you know who I am referring to, please let me know.

Here is a short piece of music that starts off with the blimp drone only. Four loops of blimp at 120 BPM in an AABA pattern where part A sounds the note A and part B sounds the note G#:
Patternbased – Blimp Drone by patternbased