This has nothing to do with guitar, but I always get a kick out of listening to train whistles. I live half a mile from railroad tracks, and I usually make a quick ear training exercise out of it by picking out the notes separately in my head. It always reminds me of an army of Freddie Mercurys singing "Is this the real life?" and I'm pretty sure the same notes are used, though I haven't checked. (Someday I'll have the song ready when the train goes by.)

A year ago, I noticed something really cool when the Doppler effect combines with reflections. A train was coming my direction along the side of a cliff. When the whistle sounded, there were twice as many notes as usual. I realized that while the sound coming directly from the train was pitched up by the Doppler effect, I was also hearing a delayed reflection off the face of the cliff, roughly behind the train from my perspective. Since the train was moving away from the cliff, the sound in that direction was pitched down, and the reflection off the wall didn't change the pitch. So I was hearing the higher-pitched direct sound of the whistle first, then a slightly delayed lower-pitched reflection, and it sounded glorious.

Car horns are fun too. They're usually two notes a major third apart, although I think I've heard a few minor thirds. Curiously, I tend to think of a major third as an assertive, look-you-in-the-eye type of interval, and a minor third as a more tentative, sideways glance. Which would you rather sound like on the road? I'd love to have both installed for different situations.

Today's Summary

  • warmup: maj7, 7, m7, m7b5 arpeggios, 5 positions, varying speeds, 1 hr
  • SRV: review, then "Dirty Pool" strumming, 1 hr
  • sight reading: C major with added Ab, 1 hr
  • more arpeggios: aug7, maj7, maj7b5, 7#5, 7, 7b5, m/maj7, m7, m7b5, dim7, 5 positions, varying speeds, 2 hrs
  • ear training, 1 hr