Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Google Doodle, Les Paul's 96th Birthday

I told myself that I was going to get out of this Google Doodle business unless it was a really cool Doodle or the subject was dear to me.  Well in this case I must confess the former.  I have heard of Les Paul and have heard of a Les Paul model guitar, but there-in lies the limits of my knowledge.  So I am not going to babble about Les Paul.

You can find out about Les Paul at:

Wikipedia, Les Paul

Image Credit:  Les Paul Online
You can find out a wealth of information and hear 16 different short clips at:

Les Paul Online

Here is an article on Les Paul and the Doodle:

 PC Magazine, Google Doodle Honors 96th Birthday of Musician Les Paul

So let's talk about the Doodle.  You can pluck the strings with your mouse and they play.  As usual, the interactive features are inoperative here because these images are just screen dumps.  You have to go to Google today before they remove the Doodle.

Strumming the strings with the mouse. 

Recording your masterpiece.
If you hit the black button (the descender on the second Google g) you can record your composition for 30 seconds.  The red light will begin to flash a few seconds before the end of the recording.  Also by hitting the black button, the strings will now respond to the keyboard as well as the mouse.  I don't know enough about music to state for sure but I believe the far left  keys 1, Q, A, or Z would be the note G.   The notes progress to the right so that 8, I, K, and the comma would be g one octave higher.  All four rows of keys play the same notes left to right. So 1, Q, A, and Z are the same note.

So not knowing anything about music, how the hell did I figure that out?  Believe me I am a musical klutz.  I don't even know how to play a stereo.  Well, I found this really cool site!  Check this out.

Music At Virginia Tech, Table of Musical Pitches

Screen Dump of The Table of Musical Pitches, Virginia Tech

What an extremely cool web site.  Not only does it let you play the notes, it gives you the octave name, the note name, the midi number, the actual physical hertz of the fundamental, and shows you where the note is located on a music staff.   I love things like this.  So here is what I did.  I made a recording on the Doodle of the lowest key repeated...1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 .  Thirty seconds of one over and over.  I started that playing then clicked to the Table of Musical Pitches and kept hitting keys while the Doodle was playing 1 1 1 1 1 1 until I found a note that matched the tone.  I got that it was a G fairly quickly, but I couldn't determine whether it is a contra G or a great G.  So I did the same thing with the 8 key,  30 seconds of 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 recorded on the Doodle.  While that played I tried the different Gs on the pitch table.  The closest G seemed to be a small g, midi # 55, at the frequency of 196.00 Hz.  It is not exact because the piano has different overtones than a guitar. But it seems to be the closest fundamental frequency--I think.  All the more I know about music I may be wrong.  So if key 8 is small g, the 1 key should be one octave down at great G, midi # 43, at a frequency of 97.893 Hz.   So here is a question for all you musicians.  The frequencies of A are exactly double for every octave that you go up... 27.5...55.0...110.0...220.0...440.0...880.0...1760.0...3520.0    Why is G slightly off on some of the octaves?  Does it have something to do with the harmonics of the piano?  Would pure tones be exactly double?

Playing Back My Masterpiece

Here is my attempt at playing something.  Beethoven is rolling in his grave and the E.U. is considering placing me before the Hague for crimes against humanity and disrespect for the Union.  Between my MS and my lousy wireless keyboard the beat is not very good.  If you click on the link below you should be able to hear Maestro Sextant play Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th.  I am not sure how long the link will work.  Unless Google is going to set up a new server for the preservation of the tunes people record today, I doubt that it will go for long.  Hopefully the link will die fast.

Yeah I know, it really sucks.  And if you knew how many time I tried recording that you would laugh.

Image Credit: 

If you are a musical klutz as well, but would like to learn something about the science of  music may I suggest:

This is Your Brain On Music, The Science of A Human Obsession By Daniel J. Levitin

I read about half the book several years ago and got shuffled off on to something else, but I thought it was excellent.  However, I notice the reviews on Amazon are all over the place, so check it out carefully before buying the book.

Amazon, This is Your Brain On Music

Edit 6-9-11:  Huffington Post has a diagram of the strings and a couple tunes you can play:

Edit 6-11-11  Google extended the Doodle one extra day because its popularity.  Today it is in the Logos file but is still operational including the record function (USA only).  My link still works unfortunately, Beethoven continues to grit his teeth.  You can find the Doodle at:

Here is a website devoted to using your time efficiently that states that on June 9, 2011 users spent an additional 5.3 million hours on Google at a cost of $133 million I assume in lost productivity.  I am not sure whether they are talking just their members, or the US, or world wide.

I messed around with the thing for quite a while, but I didn't cost anyone anything because I am retired. Of  course I probably generated 317 thirty second tunes trying to figure out  1) how it worked.  2) the lay out of the strings on the keyboard... keyboard A did not equal musical A. 3) the note of the bottom string, keyboard A = musical G. 4) Plinking out Ode To Joy. 5) Performing Ode to Joy.   It kind of bothers me to think that Google is saving all these 30 second snippets of strumming.  Oh yeah,  I called two friends, both guitar nuts, both working, and told them to check it out. Ka Ching, Ka Ching, there goes the old productivity.  I have never called anyone to check out a Google Doodle before.

A while ago I read that the energy consumption of the Internet was beginning to exceed that of air travel.  That was not simply the servers, but included infrastructure costs of  heat, light, air conditioning for the buildings also.  So what will be the environmental costs of the Les Paul doodle?  I have no  idea.  I didn't tweet, text, or email anyone, but I did make two phone calls and I posted a blog entry.  The recent page loads on my blog have been averaging at 66 per day from an average of 42 unique visitors per day.  On Thursday June 9,  I had 137 page loads from 100 unique visits, and Friday June 10, 125 page loads from 62 unique visitors.  So how much time are people wasting looking at this blog post?  

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