By Joel Bjorling
Crop circles continue to mystify. Some believe they are
designed by aliens, as some sort of landing strip, others think they
are they constructed by humans and are mere hoaxes. Whatever the case,
astronomer Gerald Hawkins, of Boston University, has suggested that
crop circles are actually a means of creating music.
The idea of "natural music" is not unusual. The wind makes music-like
sounds as it whistles, with a flute-like timber, that dances and flows,
with virtually intelligible melodies, even though the "tunes" are
completely random. With crop circles, there is more concern for their
origin and purpose than for their alleged musical qualities.
Hawkins found that the crop circles produce sound because of diatonic
ratios based on the circlesí geometric features. He observed
that the circle patterns embodied geometric theorems that expressed
specific relationships among the areas of the various circles,
triangles, and other shapes. These patterns displayed "exact numerical
relationships" (i.e., diatonic ratios) similar to those found
in a scale of musical notes. For example, if a circle within a
formation is 90 degrees and another is 80 degrees, the ratio is 9/8
which is the same ratio between the notes C and D, C being the eighth
note of the diatonic scale and D being the ninth. These are the same
ratios that are found in popular music, or in playing the white notes
on the piano.
According to Stephen J. Smith, a paranormal investigator and amateur
composer, these ratios are not the result of chance "because the
numbers have to be very precise in order to be a diatonic ratio. This
is why music sounds like music instead of noise, because it is built on
To derive music from the crop circles, Smith used a fractal
music-generating computer program. He entered photographs of the
formations into the computer, which ëreadí the photographs
and generated music from the photos, using the crop circle scales to
play it back.
The music, he said, "resembled...an ambient space quality...and (was)
very relaxing." Smithís music, which has been featured on Kalman
and Damianís New Music Bazaar, can be heard at his web site.
The titles of his crop circle-generated compositions include "Secret
Commonwealth," "Field Notes," "Ergot Fractal," and "Circle in the Mist."
Curiously, not all crop circles embody diatonic rations in their
formations. Hence, some do not have musical qualities. Possibly, Smith
says, the real circles have diatonic ratios, and the faked ones do not.
Further, diatonic ratios may be only a part of the overall geometry of
Smith found three crop circle formations that have the proper ratios to
create three 3-5 note scales: the Moulsford and the Garsington
formations in Great Britain, and the Port Washington formation in
Wisconsin. A formation in Wassau, Wisconsin generated a 5-note scale,
yielding the notes D,E,F, G,and A.
One can only theorize the significance of being able to derive music
from the crop circles. So far, no one knows for certain the reason for
the circles, let alone any particular facet of them, or their total
purpose. It is doubtful that music is the reason for the crop
circlesóthey are not a gigantic, musical instrumentóbut
it is apparent that music is a by-product of at least some of them.
Perhaps the "music" of the circles is not much different from the
"music" of a running brook or of the wind. Composers and musicians can
record and utilize crop circle music for their works, as others have
used "natural sounds" (i.e., the wind and rain) in their compositions.
For centuries, composers have used the piano, violin, or flute, for
example, to imitate the sounds of bees, birds, animals, or murmuring
brooks. Now, thanks to modern technology, they can use the "real
thing." Such music calms the mind, is relaxing and peaceful. Consider
it as one of natureís most precious gifts.
Inquiring minds will seek technical, measurable data, but, like the
music of the wind or the brook, maybe the most profound meaning of the
circlesí music is its aesthetic quality, its pleasure to the
mind, the ear, and the senses.