Change of Pitch of Sound with Distance

Abstract

I HAVE read with considerable interest the letter by Mr. Paul R. Heyl on this subject in your issue for January 23. Speaking off-hand, I should have agreed with Mr. West, that pitch rises with distance; but, in view of the experience of your later correspondent's grandfather, I am inclined to adopt the contrary view. Many years ago I was sitting with an organist friend listening to a fugue on an organ—I think the player was the late Mr. Thomas Adams, and the fugue one of the immortal “Forty-eight” of Bach. At any rate, it was in a minor key; but I noticed that the last chord was major. “Why,” I asked my friend, “does he end with a major chord?” “Because,” was the reply, “sound has a tendency to rise in a long building like a church, and therefore the writer anticipated this by writing his final chord with a major third.” But was this the reason? If the late Mr. Knauff was right, it was probably to allow for the third dropping, and the chord reaching the listeners as a minor chord, in keeping with the rest of the piece.

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