Sympathetic vibrations are vibrations that arise in one body, induced because another body nearby is vibrating. If I pluck the open E string on my guitar, the other strings will begin vibrating slightly, even though I never touched them.
Some frequencies will resonate more than others -- an E-Flat will not induce many sympathetic vibrations in the other open strings, since they are all tuned to pitches that are closer to natural intervals of that open E.
I kind of enjoy the way certain seemingly-unrelated facts and details actually induce sympathetic vibrations of inter-relatedness. It's fun to uncover these elements of resonance.
Let me give you some, from various assorted things I uncovered -- elements that are related and intertwined and hopefully interesting to you, too. Oh, and I'll also even try and work in the results from my last Battle of the Bands post in the process:
- Let's start with today. It is November 7th as I write this. Touching on sympathetic vibrations, today is the 74th anniversary of the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse, which happened on November 7th, 1940:
- Steady 40-mph winds across the bridge's span created resonance wihin the structure -- sympathetic vibrations that amplified each other in a positive feedback loop, with much-less-than-positive results. The vibrations were strong enough to destroy the bridge.
- "The Vibrations" was also the name of a band from Los Angeles that actually made the first recording of the song, "Hang on, Sloopy" in 1964. If Sloopy had been on the Tacoma Narrows bridge on Nov 7, 1940, Sloopy would have really needed to hang on.
- The Vibrations may have released the first version of "Hang on Sloopy," but the version released by The McCoys (with 16-year-old Rick Derringer) in 1965 was the one that became the hit. It evidently resonated with the record-buying public much more:
- "Hang on Sloopy" also resonates with the state of Ohio, where it is the official rock song of the state, passed by resolution in 1985. Here's some of the wording from that resolution:
WHEREAS, Adoption of this resolution will not take too long, cost the state anything, or affect the quality of life in this state to any appreciable degree, and if we in the legislature just go ahead and pass the darn thing, we can get on with more important stuff; and
WHEREAS, Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town, and everybody, yeah, tries to put my Sloopy down
- Part of the reason Ohio adopted an official rock song is because The McCoys were from Dayton, Ohio. But also, Ohio has a legitimate rock 'n' roll heritage: The Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, and Ohio was the birthplace of such diverse artists as Devo, Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, Joe Walsh, and Boz Scaggs. Ohio has a lot of sympathy for those rock 'n' roll vibrations.
- Another band from Ohio is The Black Keys, who are from Akron, Ohio. The Black Keys won Grammy Awards in 2013 for Best Rock Song for "Lonely Boy" from the album El Camino, which also won Best Rock Album (and this video is the official video for the song, with over 39 million views). This song clearly resonated with the Grammy voters:
- Another winner at those 2013 Grammy Awards was Gotye for "Somebody That I Used to Know," the song I featured in my last BOTB post. The song won the 2013 Grammy for Single of the Year. In my BOTB, I posted it against a remake, "mash-up" version Gotye also made from all the videos people had created using that song. I think the song is catchy, if not stellar, but I really like the quirky, fun effect in the mash-up video. I think the mash-up resonated more with me, so I add my vote to that version to give it the win:
Gotye (original) -- 6; Gotye (mash-up) -- 8.
- In my BOTB post, I found it interesting that how the song and its 'remake' touched on issues of originality and covers and samples. But here's something also very interesting that I didn't mention about the song (becuase I just discovered it today): Gotye is paying ALMOST HALF of the royalties from the song to the estate of a deceased South American guitarist! Why? Because of the samples Gotye used and because of a deal set up well before the song ever became a hit. See? There's that issue about sampling, and originality, and covers, and ownership again. It matters. A LOT. There is very little sympathy when someone uses another artist's vibrations without permission -- Gotye might have risked losing ALL of his royalties without a deal in place.
- The samples Gotye used in "Somebody I Used to Know" are by guitarist Luiz Bonfa from the song "Seville." It's not on You tube by itself, but if you check out the video for THIS ALBUM and go to the 29:10 mark, you'll hear the sample that Gotye used.
- Luiz Bonfa had a long career in Brazil -- he was originally born in Rio De Janeiro in 1922. Besides the link to Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know," Bonfa is known for his music for the 1959 film, Black Orpheus, which also included music by the famous Bossa Nova composer Antonio Carlos Jobim.
- Rio De Janeiro was also the birthplace of writer and professor K.C. Cole, who wrote the book "Sympathetic Vibrations" in 1985, which is pictured at the top of this post, The city is also the home of the Rio-Niterói Bridge, one of the largest box-girder bridges in the world.
- Even though it is not a suspension bridge, it is subject to wind-induced oscillations, much like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was. There are papers describing how damaging resonance can be prevented by attenuating the sympathetic vibrations by adding opposing mechanical oscillations to dampen the ones caused by the wind. Modern technology helps Sloopy hang on. Here's some video of this bridge that's NOT breaking down in the wind:
Thanks for reading! See you November 15th for another BOTB post!