Spiritus Sanctus Vivificans Vita

by zyxonian

I’m possessed by these wind chimes which ring at all hours in my room. They are small, store-bought chimes my housemate keeps by the open window in my room.

No matter the time of day, they are ringing. I always hear them; I always see them; I think of them even when I am not at home. They ring while I sleep, subconsciously cultivating an obsession for metallic idiophones.

With all the chime tension, what could I do? I decided to build a set of my own chimes.

I made 6 chimes which had been cut in just-intervals to produce a Major 7th chord with a raised 4th.

First Chime Set

The largest chime is 24 inches in length and I consider it the tonic (or root) of the chord. The second largest chime is a Just Major Third. I simply took the harmonic ratio of a just major third (5/4, or 1.25) and divided it by the tonic length (24 inches). Thus, the major third chime is 19.2 inches long (24/1.25 = 19.2).       It is fairly easy – you can find the ratios here: http://www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/scales.html

I also cut an augmented 4th, a Perfect 5th, a Major 7th, and an Octave.

It doesn’t sound like a Major 7th chord with a raised 4th to me. Perhaps I drilled holes in places which amplified certain overtones and not much of the fundamental. Nonetheless, they are mesmerizing!

I recorded that sample at the Carroll Street stop around 1:00 am. That night I had also decided to practice a 12th century chant by Hildegard von Bingen (you know those subway acoustics are so rich, how could one not resist singing down there?).

Usually, practice consists of putting the sheet music on the ground so I can play the chimes with free hands. Well, that night, a tall man with sunglasses and a large suitcase stood directly in front of me, purposefully on top of my sheet music.

“Hey, how can I help you?” I asked.

“You can’t – But there are many avenues which I can help you”

Confused and elated from the sudden confrontation, I turn to a random stranger on the platform to tell them that this tall man is cool. He then asked for a hug  and questioned why my music was on the ground beneath his feet. I recorded the interaction: