Repeat a click fast enough and it starts to sing. Single explosions turn into the Beeoow of a passing motorcycle. The single clicks of each clip on a zip sing to us when we quickly zip up. While there are wonderful metronomes and tuning apps you can download, so far they all treat pulse and pitch as separate things. I asked Marc Clayton, tabla, bass player and programmer, to design a new app pulse2pitch that makes a continuous link between the two zones of rhythm and pitch crossing the curious boundary zone of shivering , laughter and rolled Rs, which we could call texture. In this in-between zone we experience repetitions but they are too fast to synchornise with. Each zone has its favoured unit of measurement , pulse in Beats per Minute, pitch in Herz ( vibrations per second). In the app both units are shown across all areas. Laughter is at the boundary edge, usually between 5 and 8Hz (I have a neighbour whose fascinating laughter is 10Hz ). For comparison the period in seconds is also shown. Users can enter the pulse by tapping or by entering digits. Pitch can be entered as Herz (or BPM or seconds) or by letter names and register number (e.g. A4 which is 440 Herz).
The app is free for you to download and experiment with. On an Android phone open Google Play Store and search for pulse2pitch. To close the app swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen.
Back in 1814 the inventor of the metronome Maelzel chose the unit of beats per minute. It might have been better if he had chosen to calibrate his invention in seconds or beats per second (Herz). Our bodily movements including speech are much closer to the second than the minute. However using Herz or actual seconds would have resulted in decimals which he may have wanted to avoid.
On the app there is the option to set the number of beats in a bar. When you cross into the pitch zone make sure it is set to 1 beat in a bar otherwise you will hear a different note. There is an interesting side effect. If you set a high note, such as A5, by increasing the beats in a bar you can hear the subharmonic series, that is the harmonic series upside down.
beats in a bar – pitch