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Tragic Decline of Music Literacy and Quality

Archived article

The Tragic Decline of Music Literacy (and Quality)

Jon Henschen, intellectualtakeout.org, August 16, 2018

Throughout grade school and high school, I was fortunate to participate in quality music programs. Our high school had a top Illinois state jazz band; I also participated in symphonic band, which gave me a greater appreciation for classical music. It wasn’t enough to just read music. You would need to sight read, meaning you are given a difficult composition to play cold, without any prior practice. Sight reading would quickly reveal how fine-tuned playing “chops” really were. In college I continued in a jazz band and also took a music theory class. The experience gave me the ability to visualize music (If you play by ear only, you will never have that same depth of understanding music construct.)

Both jazz and classical art forms require not only music literacy, but for the musician to be at the top of their game in technical proficiency, tonal quality and creativity in the case of the jazz idiom. Jazz masters like John Coltrane would practice six to nine hours a day, often cutting his practice only because his inner lower lip would be bleeding from the friction caused by his mouth piece against his gums and teeth.

His ability to compose and create new styles and directions for jazz was legendary. With few exceptions such as Wes Montgomery or Chet Baker, if you couldn’t read music, you couldn’t play jazz. In the case of classical music, if you can’t read music you can’t play in an orchestra or symphonic band. Over the last 20 years, musical foundations like reading and composing music are disappearing with the percentage of people that can read music notation proficiently down to 11 percent, according to some surveys.

Can you read music

Two primary sources for learning to read music are school programs and at home piano lessons. Public school music programs have been in decline since the 1980’s, often with school administrations blaming budget cuts or needing to spend money on competing extracurricular programs. Prior to the 1980’s, it was common for homes to have a piano with children taking piano lessons.

Even home architecture incorporated what was referred to as a “piano window” in the living room which was positioned above an upright piano to help illuminate the music. Stores dedicated to selling pianos are dwindling across the country as fewer people take up the instrument. In 1909, piano sales were at their peak when more than 364,500 were sold, but sales have plunged to between 30,000 and 40,000 annually in the US. Demand for youth sports competes with music studies, but also, fewer parents are requiring youngsters to take lessons as part of their upbringing.

Besides the decline of music literacy and participation, there has also been a decline in the quality of music which has been proven scientifically by Joan Serra, a postdoctoral scholar at the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute of the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona. Joan and his colleagues looked at 500,000 pieces of music between 1955-2010, running songs through a complex set of algorithms examining three aspects of those songs:

1. Timbre- sound color, texture and tone quality

2. Pitch- harmonic content of the piece, including its chords, melody, and tonal arrangements

3. Loudness- volume variance adding richness and depth

The results of the study revealed that timbral variety went down over time, meaning songs are becoming more homogeneous. Translation: most pop music now sounds the same. Timbral quality peaked in the 60’s and has since dropped steadily with less diversity of instruments and recording techniques.

Today’s pop music is largely the same with a combination of keyboard, drum machine and computer software greatly diminishing the creativity and originality.

Pitch has also decreased, with the number of chords and different melodies declining. Pitch content has also decreased, with the number of chords and different melodies declining as musicians today are less adventurous in moving from one chord or note to another, opting for well-trod paths by their predecessors.

Loudness was found to have increased by about one decibel every eight years. Music loudness has been manipulated by the use of compression. Compression boosts the volume of the quietest parts of the song so they match the loudest parts, reducing dynamic range. With everything now loud, it gives music a muddled sound, as everything has less punch and vibrancy due to compression.

In an interview, Billy Joel was asked what has made him a standout. He responded his ability to read and compose music made him unique in the music industry, which as he explained, was troubling for the industry when being musically literate makes you stand out. An astonishing amount of today’s popular music is written by two people: Lukasz Gottwald of the United States and Max Martin from Sweden, who are both responsible for dozens of songs in the top 100 charts. You can credit Max and Dr. Luke for most the hits of these stars:

Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Jessie J., KE$HA, Miley Cyrus, Avril Lavigne, Maroon 5, Taio Cruz, Ellie Goulding, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, Nick Minaj, Celine Dion, Bon Jovi, Usher, Adam Lambert, Justin Bieber, Domino, Pink, Pitbull, One Direction, Flo Rida, Paris Hilton, The Veronicas, R. Kelly, Zebrahead

With only two people writing much of what we hear, is it any wonder music sounds the same, using the same hooks, riffs and electric drum effects?

Lyric Intelligence was also studied by Joan Serra over the last 10 years using several metrics such as “Flesch Kincaid Readability Index,” which reflects how difficult a piece of text is to understand and the quality of the writing. Results showed lyric intelligence has dropped by a full grade with lyrics getting shorter, tending to repeat the same words more often.

Artists that write the entirety of their own songs are very rare today. When artists like Taylor Swift claim they write their own music, it is partially true, insofar as she writes her own lyrics about her latest boyfriend breakup, but she cannot read music and lacks the ability to compose what she plays. (Don’t attack me Tay-Tay Fans!)

Music electronics are another aspect of musical decline as the many untalented people we hear on the radio can’t live without autotune. Autotune artificially stretches or slurs sounds in order to get it closer to center pitch. Many of today’s pop musicians and rappers could not survive without autotune, which has become a sort of musical training wheels. But unlike a five-year-old riding a bike, they never take the training wheels off to mature into a better musician. Dare I even bring up the subject of U2s guitarist “The Edge” who has popularized rhythmic digital delays synchronized to the tempo of the music? You could easily argue he’s more an accomplished sound engineer than a talented guitarist.

Today’s music is designed to sell, not inspire. Today’s artist is often more concerned with producing something familiar to mass audience, increasing the likelihood of commercial success (this is encouraged by music industry execs, who are notoriously risk-averse).

In the mid-1970’s, most American high schools had a choir, orchestra, symphonic band, jazz band, and music appreciation classes. Many of today’s schools limit you to a music appreciation class because it is the cheapest option. D.A. Russell wrote in the Huffington Post in an article titled, “Cancelling High School Elective, Arts and Music—So Many Reasons—So Many Lies” that music, arts and electives teachers have to face the constant threat of eliminating their courses entirely. The worst part is knowing that cancellation is almost always based on two deliberate falsehoods peddled by school administrators: 1) Cancellation is a funding issue (the big lie); 2) music and the arts are too expensive (the little lie).

The truth: Elective class periods have been usurped by standardized test prep. Administrators focus primarily on protecting their positions and the school’s status by concentrating curricula on passing the tests, rather than by helping teachers be freed up from micromanaging mandates so those same teachers can teach again in their classrooms, making test prep classes unnecessary.

What can be done? First, musical literacy should be taught in our nation’s school systems. In addition, parents should encourage their children to play an instrument because it has been proven to help in brain synapse connections, learning discipline, work ethic, and working within a team. While contact sports like football are proven brain damagers, music participation is a brain enhancer.

This website is educational. Materials within it are being used in accord with the Fair Use doctrine, as defined by United States law.

§107. Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use.  Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phone records or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered shall include: the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (added pub. l 94-553, Title I, 101, Oct 19, 1976, 90 Stat 2546)

The Greatest Mistake In The History Of Physics

The Greatest Mistake In The History Of Physics, Ethan Siegel, Forbes, 8/26/2018

Augustin-Jean Fresnel, French physicist and engineer

French educational card, late 19th/early 20th century.

We all love our most cherished ideas about how the world and the Universe works. Our conception of reality is often inextricably intertwined with our ideas of who we are. But to be a scientist is to be prepared to doubt all of it each and every time we put it to the test. All it takes is one observation, measurement, or experiment that conflicts with the predictions of your theory, and you have to consider revising or throwing out your picture of reality. If you can reproduce that scientific test and show, convincingly, that it is inconsistent with the prevailing theory, you’ve set the stage for a scientific revolution. But if you aren’t willing to put your theory or assumption to the test, you might just make the greatest mistake in the history of physics.

It’s human nature to have heroes: people we look up to, admire, and aspire to be like. In physics, the greatest hero for many centuries was Isaac Newton. Newton represented the pinnacle of the scientific achievements of humanity. His theory of universal gravitation described, faultlessly, everything from the motion of comets and planets and moons to how objects fell on Earth for centuries. His description of how objects moved, including his laws of motion and how they were influenced by forces and accelerations, remains valid under nearly all circumstances, even today. To challenge Newton was a fool’s errand.

Which is why, in the early 19th century, the young French scientist, Augustin-Jean Fresnel, should have expected the trouble he was about to get into.

Although it isn’t as well-known today as his work on mechanics or gravitation, Newton was also one of the pioneers in explaining how light worked. He explained reflection and refraction, absorption and transmission, and even how white light was composed of colors. Light rays bent when they went from air into water and back again, and at every surface there was a reflective component and a component that was transmitted through.

Newton’s “corpuscular” theory of light was particle-based, and his idea that light was a ray agreed with a wide variety of experiments. Although there was a wave theory of light that was contemporary with Newton’s, put forth by Christiaan Huygens, it couldn’t explain the prism experiments. Newton’s Opticks, like his mechanics and gravitation, was a winner.

But right around the dawn of the 19th century, it started to run into trouble. Thomas Young ran a now-classic experiment where he passed light through a double slit: two narrow slits separated by an extremely small distance. Instead of light behaving like a corpuscle, where it would either pass through one slit or the other, it displayed an interference pattern: a series of light-and-dark bands.

Two slits diffraction pattern Young's Double slit

{An image of the results}

Double slit diffraction pattern REALITY

Moreover, the pattern of the bands was determined by two tunable experimental parameters: the spacing between the slit and the color of the light. If red light corresponded to long-wavelength light and blue corresponded to short-wavelength light, then light behaved exactly as you’d expect if it were a wave. Young’s double-slit experiments only made sense if light had a fundamentally wavelike nature.

Double slit interference colors

Still, Newton’s successes couldn’t be ignored. The nature of light became a controversial topic in the early 19th century among scientists. In 1818, the French Academy of Sciences sponsored a competition to explain light. Was it a wave? Was it a particle? How can you test it, and how can you verify that test?

Augustin-Jean Fresnel entered this competition despite being trained as a civil engineer, not as a physicist or mathematician. He had formulated a new wave theory of light that he was tremendously excited about, largely based on Huygens’ 17th century work and Young’s recent experimental results. The stage was set for the greatest mistake in all of physics to occur.

After submitting his entry, one of the judges, the famed physicist and mathematician Simeon Poisson, investigated Fresnel’s theory in gory detail. If light were a corpuscle, as Newton would have it, it would simply travel in a straight line through space. But if light were a wave, it would have to interfere and diffract when it encountered a barrier, a slit, or an “edge” to a surface. Different geometric configurations would lead to different specific patterns, but this general rule holds.

Poisson imagined light of a monochrome color: a single wavelength in Fresnel’s theory. Imagine this light makes a cone-like shape, and encounters a spherical object. In Newton’s theory, you get a circle-shaped shadow, with light surrounding it. But in Fresnel’s theory, as Poisson demonstrated, there should be a single, bright point at the very center of the shadow. This prediction, Poisson asserted, was clearly absurd.

Poisson attempted to disprove Fresnel’s theory by showing that it led to a logical fallacy: reductio ad absurdum. Poisson’s idea was to derive a prediction made by the light-as-a-wave theory that would have such an absurd consequence that it must be false. If the prediction was absurd, the wave theory of light must be false. Newton was right; Fresnel was wrong. Case closed.

Except, that itself is the greatest mistake in the history of physics! You cannot draw a conclusion, no matter how obvious it seems, without performing the crucial experiment. Physics is not decided by elegance, by beauty, by the straightforwardness of arguments, or by debate. It is settled by appealing to nature itself, and that means performing the relevant experiment.

Poisson spot Fresnel diffraction experiment


Thankfully, for Fresnel and for science, the head of the judging committee would have none of Poisson’s shenanigans. Standing up for not only Fresnel but for the process of scientific inquiry in general, François Arago, who later became much more famous as a politician, abolitionist, and even prime minister of France, performed the deciding experiment himself.

He fashioned a spherical obstacle and shone monochromatic light around it, checking for the wave theory’s prediction of constructive interference. Right at the center of the shadow, a bright spot of light could easily be seen. Even though the predictions of Fresnel’s theory seemed absurd, the experimental evidence was right there to validate it. Absurd or not, nature had spoken.


A great mistake you can make in physics is to assume you know what the answer is going to be in advance. An even greater mistake is to assume that you don’t even need to perform a test, because your intuition tells you what is or isn’t acceptable to nature itself. But physics is not always an intuitive science, and for that reason, we must always resort to experiments, observations, and measurable tests of our theories.

Without that approach, we would never have overthrown Aristotle’s view of nature. We never would have discovered special relativity, quantum mechanics, or our current theory of gravity: Einstein’s General Relativity. And, quite certainly, we would never have discovered the wave nature of light without it, either.


It’s been 200 years since the greatest mistake in the history of physics. The fact that this mistake turned out to be of little consequence is only due to the scientific integrity of François Arago, who wasn’t afraid to stand up for the most important principle in all of science. We must answer our questions about the Universe by putting the Universe itself to the test. After all, in his Opticks, it was Newton himself who wrote:

“My Design in this Book is not to explain the Properties of Light by Hypotheses, but to propose and prove them by Reason and Experiments.”

Without experiments, we don’t have science at all. The presumption that we can look at a prediction and declare it absurd is a great failing on our part as humans. Nature may or may not be absurd; that is independent of whether it is correct or not. To get it right, you have to do the test. Without it, you’re not doing science at all.

From https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2018/08/16/the-greatest-mistake-in-the-history-of-physics/#72697af32554



The mechanics of the Nazaré Canyon wave

The Portuguese town of Nazaré can deliver 100-foot (30.4 meters) waves.

How can we explain the Nazaré Canyon geomorphologic phenomenon?

In the 16th century, Portuguese people and army protected Nazaré from pirate attacks, in the Promontório do Sítio, the cliff-top area located 110-meter above the beach.

Nazare North Canyon with transparent ocean

A screenshot from the short film “Nazaré – Entre a Terra e o Mar”, showing what the canyon would look like if the sea were very clear and transparent.

Today, from this unique site, it is possible to watch the power of the Atlantic Ocean. If you face the salt water from the nearby castle, you can easily spot the famous big waves that pump the quiet village.

What are the mechanics of the Nazaré Canyon? Is there a clear explanation for the size of the local waves? First of all, let us underline the most common swell direction in the region: West and Northwest.

A few miles off the coast of Nazaré, there are drastic differences of depth between the continental shelf and the canyon. When swell heads to shore, it is quickly amplified where the two geomorphologic variables meet causing the formation of big waves.

Furthermore, a water current is channeled by the shore – from North to South – in the direction of the incoming waves, additionally contributing to wave height. Nazaré holds the Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed.

In conclusion, the difference of depths increase wave height, the canyon increases and converges the swell and the local water current helps building the biggest wave in the world. Add a perfect wind speed and direction and welcome to Nazaré.

The Mechanics of the Nazaré Canyon Wave:

1. Swell refraction: difference of depths between the continental shelf and the canyon change swell speed and direction;

2. Rapid depth reduction: wave size builds gradually;

3. Converging wave: the wave from the canyon and the wave from the continental shelf meet and form a higher one;

4. Local water channel: a seashore channel drives water towards the incoming waves to increase their height;

Nazaré Canyon wave off Portugal surfing

a) Wave fronts,   b) Head of the Nazaré Canyon,   c) Praia do Norte

Article from Surfer Today, surfertoday.com/surfing/8247-the-mechanics-of-the-nazare-canyon-wave


This section from telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/10411252/How-a-100-foot-wave-is-created.html

Currents through the canyon combine with swell driven by winds from further out in the Atlantic to create waves that propagate at different speeds.

They converge as the canyon narrows and drive the swell directly towards the lighthouse that sits on the edge of Nazaré.

From the headwall to the coastline, the seabed rises gradually from around 32 feet to become shallow enough for the swell to break. Tidal conditions also help to increase the wave height.

According to Mr McNamara’s website charting the project he has been conducting, the wave produced here are “probably the biggest in all the world” for sandy a sand sea bed.

On Monday the 80 mile an hour winds created by the St Jude’s Atlantic storm whipped up the swell to monstrous proportions, leading to waves of up to 100 feet tall.

The previous day as the storm gathered pace, waves of up to 80 feet high formed and British surfer Andrew Cotton managed to ride one of these.

Nazaré Canyon Portugal Wave

Image from How a 100 foot wave is created, The Telegraph (UK),


This website is educational. Materials within it are being used in accord with the Fair Use doctrine, as defined by United States law.
§107. Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phone records or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use, the factors to be considered shall include: the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (added pub. l 94-553, Title I, 101, Oct 19, 1976, 90 Stat 2546)

Articles on waves

What are waves? They are a repeated disturbance that spreads out, and transfers energy as it moves forwards.

When we study the physics of waves, we cover these topics:

Simple harmonic motion

Interference and superposition

Waves in 2 dimensions, and refraction

What is sound? How do we hear it?

Actually see the speed of sound at a Queen concert

Sources of sound: String instruments, harmonics, wind instruments, quality of sound

Doppler Effect

Diffraction: The way that waves spread around an obstacle

Resonance: When a vibrating system drives another system to oscillate with greater amplitude at specific frequencies.

MCAS Physics exam: sample wave problems

when time allows we may address these fun related topics:

How do record players and vinyl LPs work?

Anomalous sounds (sound “mirages”?!)

Sonar, echolocation, and ultrasound

Why pianos are never in tune: Math and Physics.

Facts and Fiction of the Schumann Resonance


And in doing so we cover these learning standards:

Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework

HS-PS4-1. Use mathematical representations to support a claim regarding relationships among the frequency, wavelength, and speed of waves traveling within various media. Recognize that electromagnetic waves can travel through empty space (without a medium) as compared to mechanical waves that require a medium

SAT subject test in Physics: Waves and optics

• General wave properties, such as wave speed, frequency, wavelength, superposition, standing wave diffraction, and Doppler effect
• Reflection and refraction, such as Snell’s law and changes in wavelength and speed
• Ray optics, such as image formation using pinholes, mirrors, and lenses
• Physical optics, such as single-slit diffraction, double-slit interference, polarization, and color

How records work

How record work (private for now)



Facts and Fiction of the Schumann Resonance

Excerpted from Facts and Fiction of the Schumann Resonance, by Brian Dunning,  Skeptoid Podcast #352

It’s increasingly hard to find a web page dedicated to the sales of alternative medicine products or New Age spirituality that does not cite the Schumann resonances as proof that some product or service is rooted in science. … Today we’re going to see what the Schumann resonances actually are, how they formed and what they do, and see if we can determine whether they are, in fact, related to human health.

In physics, Schumann resonances are the name given to the resonant frequency of the Earth’s atmosphere, between the surface and the densest part of the ionosphere.

Schumann Resonance

Image from nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/gallery

They’re named for the German physicist Winfried Otto Schumann (1888-1974) who worked briefly in the United States after WWII, and predicted that the Earth’s atmosphere would resonate certain electromagnetic frequencies.

[What is a resonant frequency? Here is a common example. When you blow on a glass bottle at a certain frequency, you can get the bottle to vibrate at the same frequency]

vibrational mode glass beer bottle

from acs.psu.edu/drussell/Demos/BeerBottle/beerbottle.html

This bottle has a resonant frequency of about 196 Hz.

That’s the frequency of sound waves that most efficiently bounce back and forth between the sides of the bottle, at the speed of sound, propagating via the air molecules.

Electromagnetic radiation – like light, and radio waves – is similar, except the waves travel at the speed of light, and do not require a medium like air molecules.

The speed of light is a lot faster than the speed of sound, but the electromagnetic waves have a lot further to go between the ground and the ionosphere than do the sound waves between the sides of the bottle.

This atmospheric electromagnetic resonant frequency is 7.83 Hz, which is near the bottom of the ELF frequency range, or Extremely Low Frequency.

The atmosphere has its own radio equivalent of someone blowing across the top of the bottle: lightning.

Lightning BBC africa thunerstorm plasma

Lightning is constantly flashing all around the world, many times per second; and each bolt is a radio source. This means our atmosphere is continuously resonating with a radio frequency of 7.83 Hz, along with progressively weaker harmonics at 14.3, 20.8, 27.3 and 33.8 Hz.

These are the Schumann resonances. It’s nothing to do with the Earth itself, or with life, or with any spiritual phenomenon; it’s merely an artifact of the physical dimensions of the space between the surface of the Earth and the ionosphere.

Every planet and moon that has an ionosphere has its own set of Schumann resonances defined by the planet’s size.

Jupiter's Galilean moons

Biggest point: this resonated radio from lightning is a vanishingly small component of the electromagnetic spectrum to which we’re all naturally exposed.

The overwhelming source is the sun, blasting the Earth with infrared, visible light, and ultraviolet radiation. All natural sources from outer space, and even radioactive decay of naturally occurring elements on Earth, produce wide-spectrum radio noise. Those resonating in the Schumann cavity are only a tiny, tiny part of the spectrum.

Gamma rays Spectrum Properties NASA

Nevertheless, because the Schumann resonance frequencies are defined by the dimensions of the Earth, many New Age proponents and alternative medicine advocates have come to regard 7.83 Hz as some sort of Mother Earth frequency, asserting the belief that it’s related to life on Earth.

The most pervasive of all the popular fictions surrounding the Schumann resonance is that it is correlated with the health of the human body.


There are a huge number of products and services sold to enhance health or mood, citing the Schumann resonance as the foundational science.

A notable example is the Power Balance bracelets. Tom O’Dowd, formerly the Australian distributor, said that the mylar hologram resonated at 7.83 Hz.

When the bracelet was placed within the body’s natural energy field, the resonance would [supposedly] “reset” your energy field to that frequency.

Well, there were a lot of problems with that claim.

First of all, 7.83 Hz has a wavelength of about 38,000 kilometers. This is about the circumference of the Earth, which is why its atmospheric cavity resonates at that frequency. 38,000 kilometers is WAY bigger than a bracelet! There’s no way that something that tiny could resonate such an enormous wavelength. O’Dowd’s sales pitch was implausible, by a factor of billions, to anyone who understood resonance.

This same fact also applies to the human body. Human beings are so small, relative to a radio wavelength of 38,000 kilometers, that there’s no way our anatomy could detect or interact with such a radio signal in any way.

Proponents of binaural beats cite the Schumann frequency as well. These are audio recordings which combine two slightly offset frequencies to produce a third phantom beat frequency that is perceived from the interference of the two.

Some claim to change your brain’s encephalogram, which they say is a beneficial thing to do. Brain waves range from near zero up to about 100 Hz during normal activity, with a typical reading near the lower end of the scale. This happens to overlap 7.83 — suggesting the aforementioned pseudoscientific connection between humans and the Schumann resonance — but with a critical difference. An audio recording is audio, not radio. It’s the physical oscillation of air molecules, not the propagation of electromagnetic waves. The two have virtually nothing to do with each other.


[Other salespeople claim] that our bodies’ energy fields need to interact with the Schumann resonance, but can’t because of all the interference from modern society [and so they try to sell devices that supposedly connect our body to the Schumann resonance.]

It’s all complete and utter nonsense. Human bodies do not have an energy field: in fact there’s not even any such thing as an energy field. Fields are constructs in which some direction or intensity is measured at every point: gravity, wind, magnetism, some expression of energy. Energy is just a measurement; it doesn’t exist on its own as a cloud or a field or some other entity. The notion that frequencies can interact with the body’s energy field is, as the saying goes, so wrong it’s not even wrong.

Another really common New Age misconception about the Schumann resonance is that it is the resonant frequency of the Earth. But there’s no reason to expect the Earth’s electromagnetic resonant frequency to bear any similarity to the Schumann resonance.

Furthermore, the Earth probably doesn’t even have a resonant electromagnetic frequency. Each of the Earth’s many layers is a very poor conductor of radio; combined all together, the Earth easily absorbs just about every frequency it’s exposed to. If you’ve ever noticed that your car radio cuts out when you drive through a tunnel, you’ve seen an example of this.

Now the Earth does, of course, conduct low-frequency waves of other types. Earthquakes are the prime example of this. The Earth’s various layers propagate seismic waves differently, but all quite well. Seismic waves are shockwaves, a physical oscillation of the medium. Like audio waves, these are unrelated to electromagnetic radio waves.

Each and every major structure within the Earth — such as a mass of rock within a continent, a particular layer of magma, etc. — does have its own resonant frequency for seismic shockwaves, but there is (definitively) no resonant electromagnetic frequency for the Earth as a whole.

So our major point today is that you should be very skeptical of any product that uses the Schumann resonance as part of a sales pitch.

The Earth does not have any particular frequency. Life on Earth is neither dependent upon, nor enhanced by, any specific frequency.

Source:  skeptoid.com/episodes/4352


Resonance: When a vibrating system drives another system to oscillate with greater amplitude at specific frequencies.

from Physicsclassroom.com:

Musical instruments are set into vibrational motion at their natural frequency when a person hits, strikes, strums, plucks or somehow disturbs the object.

Each natural frequency of the object is associated with one of the many standing wave patterns by which that object could vibrate. The natural frequencies of a musical instrument are sometimes referred to as the harmonics of the instrument.

An instrument can be forced into vibrating at one of its harmonics (with one of its standing wave patterns) if another interconnected object pushes it with one of those frequencies. This is known as resonance – when one object vibrating at the same natural frequency of a second object forces that second object into vibrational motion.

Physics Classroom – Sounds – Lesson 5 – Resonance

(work in progress)

RedGrittyBrick, a physicist writing on skeptics.stackexchange.com, notes that a bridge can be susceptible to mechanical resonance:

Mechanical structures usually have one or more frequencies at which some part of the structure oscillates. A tuning fork has a well-defined natural frequency of oscillation. More complex structures may have a dominant natural frequency of oscillation. If some mechanical inputs (such as the pressure of feet walking in unison) have a frequency that is close to a natural frequency of the structure, these inputs will tend to initiate and, over a short time, increase the oscillating movements of the structure. Like pushing a child’s swing at the right time.

One example is London’s Millennium Bridge which was closed shortly after opening because low-frequency vibrations in the bridge were causing large groups of pedestrians to simultaneously shift their weight and reinforcing the oscillation. Dampers were fitted.

London's Millennium Bridge resonance

Skeptics.stackexchange Does a column of marching soldiers have to break their rhythm while crossing a bridge to prevent its collapse?


Related topics

Nikola Tesla and wireless power transmission


Related topics

Facts and Fiction of the Schumann Resonance: On this website


External links

Facts and Fiction of the Schumann Resonance : On Skeptoid

Resonance in AC circuits

Learning Standards

2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework

HS-PS4-5. Communicate technical information about how some technological devices use the principles of wave behavior and wave interactions with matter to transmit and capture information and energy. Examples of principles of wave behavior include resonance, photoelectric effect, and constructive and destructive interference.