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Musical notes, was Re: Hot, Cold, and Temperature

From:Doug Dee <amateurlinguist@...>
Date:Saturday, March 27, 2004, 16:25
In a message dated 3/27/2004 10:43:57 AM Eastern Standard Time,
cowan@CCIL.ORG writes:

>> For ex, for a temperature scale, >> why should "cold" be at the lowest end, and "hot" at >> the highest ?
>Sheer history. When Anders Celsius proposed the centigrade scale in 1742, >he set 0 to the boiling point of water and 100 to the freezing point. >It was probably Carolus Linnaeus (the biological taxonomist) who suggested >reversing the scale's direction to agree with the existing Fahrenheit >(32 to 212, 1724) and Reamur (0 to 80, 1731) scales.
Is there a similar explanation in music -- why are high notes called "high" and low notes called "low"? Are notes "high" and "low" universally (in Chinese, Navajo,. . . ) or are there languages that use left/right, or wet/dry, or some other metaphor instead of high/low? When did the high/low metaphor come into use for musical tones? I once asked this question to a linguist, who did not know. I'm hoping someone around here does. Doug


James Worlton <jworlton@...>
Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>