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The Loudest Note in the World

With the ears of an angel, the loudest sounds you’d hear in outerspace coming from Earth would be noise. Ocean noise is the loudest, followed by lightning, volcanoes, and industrial noise. These pitchless rhythms rule the soundtrack of our planet.

The loudest musical tones you’d hear would also come from machines, that of the electric power grid, or mains. The electric hum produced from power transmission is ubiquitous and provides the keynote of our lives. It’s the inescapable tone, if you use appliances, live near street lights, work in a factory, or do pretty much anything.

Because of differing voltages in the East and West, there are two dominant tones found in the power system.

In North America, the Grid plays a 60 hertz tone, halfway between a B and Bb. In Europe, the Mains plays a 50 hz tone, about a quarter tone sharper than a G.

Our aural angel would mostly hear this G tone from outerspace, because the European voltage is most popular throughout the world. The map below shows the distribution between the two tones. The red denotes the flat B, while the blue denotes the sharpG.

Between the two power tones is roughly a minor third interval. Go back up top, and simultaneously sound the two power tones.

The loudest interval to angelic ears is the minor third.

From outerspace, the G Minor reigns supreme, providing harmony to the oceanic and industrial riddim. It is our planetary chord. If the cosmos run anything like in Close Encounters, then the Earth’s G Minor Chord will function diplomatically.

The Minor is known as the "sad chord". This is because there are more dissonant overtones at play, than in a major chord.

Happier right? Babies like major better than minor. They should know, because they know nothing.

Angels prefer the minor though. Cause they live in outerspace.

The soundtracks of our lives are provided for by machines. Once upon a time, the birds sang songs louder than anybody. But for now it’s:

Power tones! Power tones!! Power tones!!!

One Comment

  1. Amanda says:

    There used to be a seemingly pitch perfect example of “The Grid” B/Bb (60 hz) coming from a lamppost in a SUNY parking lot bordering S. Manheim. The sting of the tone has been permanently stored within my memory.