I didn’t think my MINI could make me any happier but I made an amazing discovery whilst navigating the New York State Thruway on my daily commute.
Even though music is a huge part of my life, rarely do I listen to my radio – too many commercials. When I do it’s the classical station or ‘Car Talk’ on NPR with Click and Clack. Occasionally, I pick up a new CD and sadly, I’m as guilty as any teenager with volume and overplay! Most of the time, in my car, it’s just me and my driving thoughts.
Recently, I took on a beginning guitar student. Obviously, tuning the guitar has been an important task in our lessons. And while we haven’t discussed why the strings are tuned to E A D G B E , I ponder the answers to such questions.
On my way to my other job, with pitch and tuning on the brain, I roll onto I-90 and accelerate to 80mph. All MINI drivers know that a MINI is happiest running at 80. It feels good. It sounds good. Subconsciously, I’m humming along with the engine. I harmonize with the pitch and realize 80mph must generate a pitch somewhere near A (220hertz). Since I don’t have perfect pitch like some lucky people ~ I can’t be sure. The next Saturday, I’m driving my daughter to her cello lesson. (Yes, a cello easily fits into the MINI). We’re on the Northway driving 80ph. “Heather, “ I said, “pull out your cello and play the A string.” “What?!? Now? You’d like the Boccherini Concerto in B flat while I’m at it?” I explain my crazy hypothesis to her and she laughs, “Mom, only you!” Lo and behold, when she climbs over the seat, unzips the case, and plucks the A string – it is the same pitch as the MINI engine humming at 80mph!
Woa! Why is this important to us? Universal A (440 hertz) is the pitch to which most instruments are tuned so all the music we listen to and enjoy relates to this A. A gives us that contented feeling of being “in tune”. How funny that my car is capable of giving me the same vibes!
Did BMW do this on purpose or did I stumble upon some obscure coincidence? Do other engines sing A as well? Does my MINI hum other notes? I Google “musically tuning a engine” and find a very interesting video describing a partnership between the Lexus LFA engineers and Yamaha (the music division)! I email MINI to see if they may be of like thinking but have yet to hear. In the meantime, running-down-the-highway never sounded so good!