The Age of Timbre and the 2004 Ford Seat Belt Reminder Beeps

By September 8, 2011 June 21st, 2015 Uncategorized

How is it that the seat belt reminder beeps in my car match up with such a huge amount of the music being played on the car stereo? The beeps are F# at 243 BPM. Because most modern music is diatonic and concert tuned to the modern equal tempered western scale, I think simple math would tell us that there is roughly a 2 in 3 chance that F# would belong to a scale used to create (I am guessing well over 99%) of the modern music being created, distributed and played today. Other scales and tunings, bad file conversions and songs being played back at different speeds (the rare DJ spinning vinyl on the radio for instance) would account for some of that < 1% remainder. So the odds look good based on the harmonic content but what about the tempo? I am less sure how to calculate the tempo odds but I noticed I am usually giving a several BPM leeway on the beeps matching to the music. Also, the beeps can match in many ways. ie. the beeps become 8ths, 16ths, 8th triplets, 16th triplets or part of a more unsual poly-rhythm.

I feel like this helps to illustrate how we live in a musical age of timbre. An age that started in the 50s and 60s with the rise of electronics for music making and manipulation. For better or for worse, the 440Hz western equal tempered scale is essentially a world wide standard and has been for a while. Almost everyone is using the same twelve notes. Where much music generally feels like it is breaking the most new ground to me is in the timbre and sound design. Certainly people are still finding endless new ways to combine rhythms and harmonic content and always will.. not to mention that these thoughts are somewhat based on popular music (as opposed to experimental, classical, jazz etc) which is what I am usually hearing in my car but I feel that it is still timbre that is creating the most forward movement in music today and the beeps in my car will continue to sound like they are playing along with so many things.

Ode to 2004 Ford Focus Seat Belt Reminder Tones by patternbased

Joseph Minadeo

Author Joseph Minadeo

Joseph Minadeo is a composer and futurist living in the Mojave Desert and exploring idioms, themes and extremes as they relate to creativity and the creative’s environment. Currently focused on music, visuals and the mechanical in highly synchronized environments through solo as well as collaborative efforts with close friends. Also, operating the creative entity Can be contacted there.

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