Saturday, July 25, 2009

vowel sounds

I was doing research for a paper I wrote about an Emily Dickinson poem, and I found out that each vowel sound has a relative pitch associated with it. Is this like the craziest thing you've ever heard or what? I'm racking my brain, but even news of the platypus was not as startling. Okay, wait -- piranhas. Piranhas, which I first learned about in my school library in the second grade, were just as startling. Vowel pitch is the emotional equivalent of flesh-eating fish with teeth.

Having gotten that out of the way, I can already say that I've researched the web and contacted two, count 'em, two, music experts -- one of whom apparently took an entire course on vowel pitch while doing his masters. And neither of them can tell me which vowel sounds are lower/higher than which.

In fact, my friend Andy not-so-helpfully pointed out that "Higher pitches are put on the upper lines of the staff, lower pitches on the lower." Which says more about what he thinks of my musical education than it does anything else. I wanted to email back, "Btw, nouns are a person, place or thing." Instead I called him to formally lodge a complaint. He's taking the matter to his brother (who teaches music at NYU) and his dad (who is just an all around geek who sings and speaks French, although how the latter is connected was not made clear to me.) So I have a team of crack experts now working on this question; stay tuned.

This is exactly the kind of thing that I find both thrilling and unsettling: there's so much to learn about the world, and you can never know enough.

1 comment:

Wayfarer said...

"there's so much to learn about the world, and you can never know enough." DUDE! This is reason #762 why I fight the urge to quit my job and take a secretarial position that would allow me to take long lunches listening to history lectures, and leave my work at work.