The lazy man's guide to transposition

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Laserbeam bass, Sep 16, 2005.

  1. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    I was in tears last night watching a programme on Sky One called Braniac Science Abuse 3. I have been an avid follower of this show that creates all the experiments you wanted your chemistry teacher to do, but they said it was too dangerous. Their speciality is blowing up caravans.

    Anyway the experiment went as follows.

    Premise: When you swallow Helium from a balloon your voice gets higher because the vocal chords restrict. Would the same happen if you swallowed Helium and then played into a wind instrument?

    Experiment: Take one school orchestra with a variety of wind instruments 3 flutes, 2 clarinets, 1 trumpet, 2 saxophones and various strings, plus a brave teacher playing the piano. Get a test sound that shows the pitch is relevant to a school orchestra, and decide that they are generally playing within the same range of Hertz. Give Helium to one of each the following instruments. Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet and Saxophone. Listen and determine that certain players are in a different key whilst still playing the same notes.

    Single out trumpet player, and get her to play a note, reliably informing us that it was a B, read 440Hz concert A. Take a draft of Helium and play the same note, it amazingly starts on the right note and shifts up a whole tone, and then a fraction of a note up again.

    Conclusion: Helium not only tightens the vocal chords but is also expelled at a faster rate as it is lighter than air, causing the vibrations to change the pitch of the note.

    Daft bit: If you want to play a C trumpet part on a Bb instrument have copious amounts of Helium at the ready, assuming your " A Lazy Trumpeter" :oops:
  2. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Fantastic! Wish I'd seen that!

    Do you think famous musicians might have tried the same trick? I mean, you must have heard of the composer Frederick Helius.....
  3. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    As helium is lighter than air and also less dense, vibrations travel through helium faster. As the instrument 'fills' with helium, as it is expelled from the player's mouth, the sound waves inside the tube would increase in pitch. This is why it took time for the note to rise. It doesn't take time for the voice to rise because the helium is inhaled before it is exhaled.The problem with transposing in this way is that you would asphyxiate before you got through the whole piece as your body cannot use helium.
  4. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    :wink: :ranting2: :wow :dunno
  5. NeilW

    NeilW Member


    Sunday 18, 19:00, Sky Mix

    Jon Tickle and Richard Hammond carry out experiments using dynamite and gunpowder
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Thank you Mike; exactly the point I immediately wanted to make. Another way of phrasing it is that the speed of sound in Helium is faster than the speed of sound in air. Note, not the speed of the airstream (heliumstream?), but the speed of the wave within it.
  7. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    See post #4 for answer
  8. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member


    That's what I just paraphrased.
  9. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Someone suggested our sop player could use the helium in the area next year. He is an accomplished top Bb player, but has a mental block over top C's. Would the use of helium be on the band (sic) substances list :rolleyes: :wink:
  10. NeilW

    NeilW Member

    Having seen it last night, I just want to have a play :clap:

    Just imagining the MD's reaction to the sudden rise in pitch :eek: :biggrin:

    Very funny!

  11. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    I meant my smilies not your explanation :wink:

    At last someone who found the funny side and not the scientific part interesting ;)
  12. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Well if your sop player is who I think it is, well to start hitting those top Cs....... did you ever see the film Thunderpants, particularly the bit where 'the world's second greatest tenor' found a means of hitting a high note?

  13. Vickitorious

    Vickitorious Active Member


    WOWOW!!! Wychavon.. I'll find a McDonalds giving out helium balloons.. ;) Sorted!! :biggrin:
  14. Di

    Di Active Member

    Hmm, I've just won myself a bet. :)

    Vic is sat beside me eating her tea, and I spotted she'd posted. I said to her "I bet I know what you said, when I look at this its going to say "Wow, i wanna go at that!"

  15. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Could I diffidently ask why Vick of all people needs helium? :p:rolleyes:
  16. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Come on Vick... let's make pontins rememberall!
  17. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Sorry, Neville?:rolleyes:
  18. euphfanhan

    euphfanhan Member

    Aha...!! :tongue:

    five mins later and I'm still laughing...I need sleep!

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