What if?

Welcome to the “What If?” section of djembesmith.com. This is where we will fearlessly venture deep into the “what ifs” out there. But first a little disclaimer… The information contained on these pages is not meant to be considered fact or truth yet. Although it may or may not be true, we just don’t know yet, hence the “what if?”.

I believe there is some validity to the slogan “fear no art” although I don’t adhere to the “liberal left” connotations it carries. It does reflect an adventuring, pioneering spirit. I had an art professor once that said: “If you want to explore what can be, you must first learn what is.” I appreciated the advice at the time but in retrospect I wish I wouldn’t have taken the caution so literally. I found myself stuck in the boring world of the known. Don’t get me wrong, learning facts is great fun but the thrill is short-lived because you quickly find that many have been there before. It is well charted territory. There is a huge difference between knowledge and revelation. I believe we were created by a supremely creative God to co-create. Scripture tells us that we were made in the likeness of God.

So where is the danger or fear in asking the big “what if?” you ask? …There is none, if you don’t mind being labeled a quack, fraud, heretic, weirdo, etc. It does take a certain boldness to stare “what is” in the face and ask: “but what if?” Then there is the equally dangerous question of… why is “what is” what is? That is a sure way to get yourself stoned or tarred and feathered.


For the first “What if?” we will look at light and sound from a new perspective. But before we jump into it, I’d like to lay some ground work from scripture.


We know from scripture that light is more than physical in nature. On day one of creation light and dark were created (Gen. 1:3). On day four the sun, moon and stars were created (Gen. 1:14). This always frustrated me until I got the revelation that the light coming from the physical entity of the sun, that illuminates our physical world, is not the ultimate light. There is a greater light that will remain after the sun is no more. In Revelation 21:23 we see… “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is it’s lamp.” The nature and glory of God himself is light. Jesus is “the light of the world.” Like all other physical created matter, light is spiritual first and then has a physical reflection. So we have LIGHT, the full bandwidth, infinate glory of heaven, and light, the physical narrow bandwidth visible spectrum that our limited eyes perceive as color.


Sound is lesser than light. For one, sound can’t exist in a vacuum. It’s a mechanical wave that needs to “ride” on a vehicle (usually air). Second, sound can be easily distorted because it’s subject to the vehicle that is carrying it. It changes with humidity and temperature, as well as wind speed. So it is indeed different than light in many ways… BUT…

What if we analyze the similarities between light and sound and find a new way to perceive. What if we view sound as an inversely proportionate reflection of light. See the illustration below.

This perspective opens up a huge potential for integration of visual art and music. Think about it… the histogram of a photograph shows the composition of highlights and shadows, 0 being black and 255 being white (in 8 bit RGB color mode). The colors represent different frequencies of light, violet being a higher frequency than red. So we have frequency and amplitude for each pixel (or smallest piece of the picture).

The waveform of a sound illustrates the exact same properties, amplitude and frequency! In sound, the frequency is the pitch and the amplitude is the perceived loudness of the pitch. So for each sample (or smallest slice of the sound) we have a frequency and amplitude.

I chose to illustrate light and sound as inversely proportionate for this highly scientific reason… it feels right. For some reason violet and blues just seem to represent the bass frequencies and reds and yellows seem to represent highs. Also, blue light takes a lot more energy to propogate but carries a lot farther than red light. look at the glow of a tv in a house from a distance and it’s usually a blue glow. But up close it’s the reds and yellows that catch your eye and give the picture a kind of “excitement”.  In music, it takes a lot more energy to propogate bass, but look what you end up hearing on the highway when your neigbor has their tunes cranked. The bass frequencies carry farther, the highs drop off in less distance. The energy and “excitement” is in the highs of music though.

What can we do with this????? Well, we can map any pixel to a sample of audio. With the right formula you could visually convey a song or convey a picture with audio. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a perfect comparison. There are still loopholes in this perspective that need some more pondering. Like the parameter of color saturation… How does that translate in audio? the “purity” of a tone maybe? So increased saturation of color would mean a purer pitch with less harmonic distortion and vice versa?… I’m not convinced yet.

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