The Anomalist


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Crop Circles: Nature's Melodies?

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 precise ratios."

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, " 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 the formations.

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.

Copyright 2000