continue shopping

Summertime Air Conditioning

Summertime Air Conditioning

There's music up there?

Summertime, and the livin's easy!  It's important to keep cool when it's hot out- guitar is certainly one way to LOOK cool.  But air conditioning?  I mean, that's literally feeling cool.  Perhaps both?  Read on...

As it turns out, music really can be everywhere.  From desk fans, to power plants, to engines, we are constantly hearing musical pitches whether we acknowledge it or not.  For instance, I first realized this when I was mowing the lawn when I was younger and realized that the 2 cycle engine in the lawnmower matched pitch almost perfectly to the Foo Fighters song I had playing in my headphones while doing my chores. I was quite satisfied to hear how "in tune" the engine was in comparison to an actual guitar chord (which was professionally recorded at proper pitch).

Well, as it turns out, it goes much further, as places and things all over our environment give off musical pitches.  Kids of the 90s and before may remember when everyone used land line telephones.   These were phones that did not require a cell signal and could ONLY transmit and receive voice.  (This is dating ourselves, we know...)  If so, you will definitely remember a dial tone when you picked the handset up.  That pitch is actually tuned to A440 concert pitch.  So, the tone you hear if you pick up a landline telephone are two frequencies at 350 and 440 hz, known to musicians as an A and an F note, giving you that slightly pleasing major third interval. 

Have you ever stood near a powerplant in your area?  (***WARNING! It might get slightly nerdy here!)  The native musical note emanating from these places is almost a spot-on Bb!  This is because the AC electrical current (I am only speaking in North American terms granted), is resonating at a pitch/frequency of 60 hz.  This produced resonance or hum as we usually hear it (caused by induction and/or electromagnetic vibration), is directly associated with this alternating current- which is, you guessed it, alternating at a speed of 60 cycles per second (60 hz).  This causes a very pronounced tone, which can often cause an annoyance in sensitive audio systems or other electronic gear.  If you've played electric guitar, you DEFINITELY know this hum (caused by the electromagnetic fields stemming from the amp's nearby connection to grid power). 

Standing near your local powerplant (or underneath power-lines or near larger power devices or transformers) one will notice this exact same hum in the airwaves- a somewhat pleasing "electrical" sound which falls smack in the middle of a Bb note and a B!  Go try it out! Or if you're too lazy to go find a power plant, check this out:

then overlay it with THIS song

Pretty cool, huh?  "Brother" is tuned to drop A#, or Bb, and is almost perfectly in tune with 60 cycle electrical hum. 

So what does this have to do with air conditioning?!  Well, leave it to none other than the mad scientist of guitar Devin Townsend to use this constant and never-varying frequency as a base tone to jam over.  Devin used the native French electrical hum produced by a large industrial Trane air conditioner to give his tune a base tone for him to jam over.  Most people might hear a large, noisy electrical hum and assume it is un-natural and ugly, but like many things, it may possess a hidden beauty as well.  In this case, it was instantly turned into a beautiful piece of music!  Listen on my friends: