Mapping ambient tones to intervals, or why my office makes me sadToby Lester mapped the ambient drones of his office machinery to musical intervals and discovered that the reason he felt unsettled was his office heater, computer, and telephone formed a tritone. Heating his morning bagel created a minor sixth (between the Bb microwave hum and the Gb timer beep).
This American Life contributor Jack Hitt asks, "Might there be a connection between the low, consonant humming of our industrial culture and the dissonant mood of anxiety and irresolution that seems to characterize our century?"
As I type this, my laptop fan cycles between E and F, just a bit slower than in the Jaws shark attack theme. Wonder if Apple knows that.
Hitt points out that mapping ambient intervals changes your perspective, possibly to your own detriment. "Before Columbus's day, maps simply showed an arrow pointing to the mysterious west, with the line: 'There dragons be.' Maybe not every terra incognita needs discovering. But this is America. We don't just explore; we profit. Any day now I expect a house tuner to be ringing my doorbell . . . who'll promise to harmonize the whirr of my toaster with the flush of my toilet and thereby guaranteeing me an inner peace."