Sunday, December 11, 2011

Of Musical Odditites -- December 11, 2011

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde wrote the series of articles which gave this blog its name. This excerpt of an article, from the 24-June-1897 Sacramento Daily Union, talks about some of his theories on sound and vision. I like the bit about creating musical banisters for his children.

Professor Van der Weyde ... devoted considerable time to the subject some years ago, and delivered a course of lectures before the American Institute and the Brooklyn Philosophical Club.

In these he called attention to the fact that the vibrations of the normal (C), (E) and (G) bore the same relation to one another as those in the colors (red), (yellow) and (blue); for this reason, he said, most war songs were written in (C), because they were red music; songs of the ocean and the sky were written In (G), because they were blue music; a few pieces of composition which described green forests and green meadows were written, as might be expected, in (F), the green key, which was a combination or a uniting link between the yellow and blue. The Professor constructed xylophones from broomsticks by sawing off the ends. He sharpened the note given by the stick when struck by a hammer, and by planing and sandpapering the sides he made it flatter or deeper.

In one lecture he produced a very delightful instrument, which was made up of sixteen brooms, suspended from a frame, on which he played many lively airs with a couple of wooden mallets. At home the Professor planed a number of banisters on his stairs, so that the children could play tunes and run the scales on rainy days when they were kept in the house.


Joel Bocko said...

Hey Joe, I am doing my year-end round-up of the blogosphere again. Is there anything in particular you'd like to highlight from 2011?

Joe Thompson said...

Joel: I've been doing a series I call Slapstick ( It started out with magazine covers showing slapstick performers and has evolved into a series of newspaper ads for slapstick movies, mostly silents.