Friday, November 7, 2014

Sympathetic Vibrations: BOTB Results and More

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:

  • 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, "Hang On Sloopy" is of particular relevance to members of the Baby Boom Generation, who were once dismissed as a bunch of long-haired, crazy kids, but who now are old enough and vote in sufficient numbers to be taken quite seriously; and

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 heritageThe 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!


  1. 1) I dedicated something to you on the previous HERE'S TO YOU... which you will also discover by going to the most current HERE'S TO YOU. Yeah, I called you out publicly.

    2) I was in junior high school from 1980-1983 and was in the band. I played clarinet. Of all the songs we played for the duration of that three years, the only one I distinctly recall is HANG ON SLOOPY. Oh, did I mention I grew up in Ohio???? Anyway, our poor band director. We all loved that song so much that it picked up momentum like a train headed for... well, somewhere fast... and he would valiantly wave his arms around, trying to rein us in... to no avail. I am surprised he didn't throw his stick at someone. Maybe our 1st chair trumpet player. Or the drummer. He likely wanted to bean all of us... hahahaha. I can't tell you how many times we finished... so pleased with ourselves... only to get an earful about how we weren't watching him... blah blah blah. Great song!!!! Hang on baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Hi Robin! Sorry for missing your "Here's to You" post -- I made sure to go back and remedy my omission! Thanks!!!

      Ohio and "Hang On Sloopy???" See? It is ALL related!

      For the longest time as a kid, I thought it was, "hang on Snoopy" ;)

  2. This is a great post and I could comment on five or six points, but you seem to be in my head already. Why be redundant?

    When I think of vibrations strong enough to destroy a bridge, I usually think of Blondie's tune, Rapture. That bridge was totally destroyed. Pop singers, please don't cross genres or if you must, don't ever rap your bridge.

    My head is empty now.

    1. Thanks, Cherdo! And If I could award winners for best comment, I'd give this one a trophy! "Vibrations strong enough to destroy a bridge" = Blondie's "Rapture" LOL!!!!!! Brilliant!!!!!

  3. That video of the Tacoma Bridge collapsing was wild. I'm amazed it swayed in one piece so long before falling apart.

    1. Yeah, it is amazing. And it had to be doing it for a while -- enough to alert people to bring cameras to be set up. There seems to be shots from both sides of the bridge.

  4. GgC ~
    Pretty amazing to find such extensive footage of a disaster that occurred back in 1940!

    Alright now, level with us: How long does it take you to find all these interrelated links to things?

    I s'pose you'll believe me when I tell you that I already knew Rick Derringer had been a member of the McCoys, 'cause you know I know a lot of useless information. (Now if only I knew some impo'tant things about impo'tant stuffs, like who put the Bomp in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp, or who put the Ram in the Rama Lama Ding Dong.)

    I still like Rick Derringer's 'AMERICAN BOY' album. 'Rock And Roll, Hootchie Koo' still gets me groovin'. Early in the song he mentions "the old town hall" but I always thought he was singing "Old Town Mall", which was one of the earliest big shopping malls in the Los Angeles area. For many, many years I thought he was referring to that mall. (Incidentally, in my Punk Rock phase - circa 1977 or '78 - I went one day to the Old Town Mall with my buddy Eric, both of us dressed in our Punker outfits especially created for that day, which ended that night cruising on Sunset Boulevard. We were dressed so outrageously that the mall manager told us we had to leave. Ha!-Ha! I'll bet even Rick Derringer never got kicked out of the Old Town Mall.)

    'AMERICAN BOY' (1973) - featuring input from both Joe Walsh and Edgar Winter, and one of the all-time best song titles ever: 'THE AIRPORT GIVETH (THE AIRPORT TAKETH AWAY)'.

    Back "in the day" my favorite song was the title track hit. But today my favorite track is the moody 'IT'S RAINING' which includes some cool harmonica playing by "Toots" Thielemans who also made a major contribution to the Pat Metheny song 'ALWAYS AND FOREVER', which I LOVE.

    The fourth track on Derringer's album is 'CHEAP TEQUILA'. Of course, on YOUR compact disc it's probably labeled as 'CHEAP TEA, YEAH'. ;-)

    Any blog bit that mentions Bossa Nova and Antonio Carlos Jobim is automatically A-list!

    >>... "I think the song is catchy, if not stellar..."

    Ironically, I've found that some of the songs I hate the most are catchy as hell. Songs that I KNOW I HATE can sometimes get stuck in my mind for hours on end after just one hearing.

    I liken it to the devil's tricks. You know how The Bible says the devil can appear as an angel of light? Well, of course! If he appeared as he really looked every single human being would be repulsed by him and not give him the time o' day! But by appearing as an angel of light, he catches some souls unaware.

    Same thing with some of the devil's music! He makes it especially "catchy" in order to catch more souls unaware.

    And I have no doubt that Gotye is one of the devil's most beloved henchmen!
    ;-) - 2

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. >> "How long does it take you to find all these interrelated links to things?"

      It varies -- this one took a couple of hours. Sometimes the connections just kind of magically fall into place. Here, it took a bit of stretching to work it back to a "bridge bit" to be able to loop it back to the opening -- I like it when they kind of go full circle, although I think this one actually ended a bit weak.

      I had "All American Boy" also as a teen in the 70's, but I remember playing "Derringer Live" more. Haven't heard either of them in decades. I should go look them up on YouTube...

      "Somebody That I Used to Know" is definitely catchy, but I don't know if Gotye's at the henchman level -- more like minor minion, perhaps, lol. And it's interesting -- the part that sticks in my mind most is the intro acoustic guitar riff, which is the sample from Luiz Bonfa. ;)

  5. Wow, it's amazing what those sympathetic vibrations can do.

    1. Yep! Sympathetic vibrations show up in everything from communication to de-bridge-ification. ;)

  6. Interesting facts about vibrations. Very interesting. I might have to jot that down in my idea journal.

    I like the Black Keys and Gotye.

    1. Cooll! My blog might have just planted the seed of a future M. Pax story! Thanks! That makes my day! :)

  7. Yikes! I'd never heard about that bridge collapse. That's hard to watch. Poor puppy, too! Looks like they tried to rescue him but he was too scared and bit that professor. He was the only fatality. So sad but it could have been far worse.

    1. Yeah -- I didn't emphasize the scared-puppy-in-the-car part... It was very sad.

      But it's wild seeing something we often think of as "solid" flapping like crazy in the wind. From a physics and engineering perspective, it's fascinating.


Don't be shy -- feel free to comment. I really appreciate your thoughts.