This afternoon I saw an airplane rising in the sky above Boston.
As usual, I was amazed that such a huge and complicated chunk of metal could become airborne.
Apparently it has something to do with the Bernoulli Effect.
In online article by Matthew Reeve I learned that “Daniel Bernoulli was an eighteenth-century Swiss scientist who discovered that as the velocity of a fluid increases its pressure decreases.
This can be demonstrated when a constant flow of fluid or gas is passed through a tube, and a section of the tube is constricted.
At the point of constriction, the flow will speed up and there will be a drop in pressure against the walls of the tube.
This principle has become widely known as the Bernoulli Effect.”
The Bernoulli Effect explains why planes fly AND why we are able to produce sound with our vocal cords.
Matthew Reeve continues,
“The two results of the Bernoulli Effect can be explained with two examples.
Flow increase: When you place your thumb over the end of a running hose, the flow of water speeds up and travels further across the garden. At the point of constriction velocity increases.
Air pressure drop: An airplane’s wing is shaped so that the bottom is flat and the top is curved. When air flows across the top of a plane’s wing, it travels faster and the lower pressure creates lift.”
This keeps the plane aloft.
I first heard about the Bernoulli Effect in a voice lesson with Professor Eugene Rabine.
He was attempting to explain to me how our vocal cords — which are more accurately called vocal folds — vibrate to produce sound.
When we make a sound using our voice (also know as phonation), our vocal folds are pulled together by a team of small, strong, sophisticated muscles.
During phonation, the stream of air coming up from our lungs through our wind pipe/trachea is momentarily stopped by our vocal folds.
At this point pressure begins to build up below the vocal folds.
Back to Matthew Reeve’s article…
“When the pressure is high enough, the vocal folds are forced to separate and the airstream is allowed to flow through the vocal folds.
The airstream through the vocal folds then accelerates causing a drop in pressure.
This drop in pressure then sucks the vocal folds back together.
Air pressure under our vocal folds then builds up again and the process continues.”
This cycle of our vocal folds opening and closing — hundreds of times per second — creates the waves of air pressure that we recognize as sound.
Reading about the Bernoulli Effect reminded me of a recording of “The Wind Beneath My Wings” that pianist Doug Hammer and I made during a rehearsal for a memorial service a few years ago.
It combines the act of singing with the imagery of flying.
Thank you to Nicki Nichols Gamble for asking me and Bobbi Carrey to sing at her husband’s memorial service — and for requesting this particular song.
Thank you to Doug Hammer for his terrific piano playing and for his engineering expertise.
Thank you to David Gay, Eugene Rabine, Roland Seiler, Craig Wich, Mary Klimek, and all of the other human beings who have taught me about healthy vocal function.
Thank you to Pixabay for some lovely photographs and to the internet for some useful graphics
Thank YOU for reading and listening to another blog post — and thank you to everyone who continues to offer me positive feedback and enthusiastic support for my music-making.
You are indeed the wind beneath my wings.
And — echoing the final lyrics of the song — I also give thanks for the Bernoulli Effect, which allow planes to fly and human beings to sing!
Beautiful. Quite a few of your songs would be beautiful for a memorial service, Will, but I don’t suppose you would want to market yourself that way.
Thanks, suzannesmom! I would actually be honored to sing at memorial services and funerals, but haven’t done any specific outreach in that regard. Also weddings. I would be honored to sing at weddings. I have a sense from some of my peers that those singing responsibilities/opportunities often are given to members of a particular church’s or temple’s choir — which makes perfect sense. Joe and I did have someone ask after a recent gig in Sharon if we ever did weddings, however… From your fingertips to g-d’s ears!
Fascinating, Will! This was a so interesting. Great read!
Isn’t nature/the universe fascinating? How similar forces and principles and equations and patterns turn up in all sorts of different activities/phenomena? THANK YOU for reading and listening, Jennie!
Yes, Will. Absolutely fascinating!
It makes me think of fractals, too… how they turn up everywhere on a macro and a micro level.
Fascinating, Will! Thanks for the lesson–and for the song!
And boats to sail!
Yes, indeed! How could I forget the most noble of vehicles! I look forward to sailing again with you on Cayuga Lake!
Fascinating post, Will–what diverse topics you drew together! And you explained on a way that actually made sense to me–thank you!
I am still not sure that I understand the magic of differing air pressures which allows planes to fly and boats to sail and us to sing. But I am glad that the explanations I borrowed from other sources made sense to you, KerryCan. Thank you, as always, for reading and listening! Do you ever get to do any sailing on the lake in front of your house?
We used to have a 22-foot sailboat but we’re the lazy types and we tended to sit on shore and look at the boat and talk about how we should go sailing. I do love being on a sailing boat though–I wish I had a good friend who would take me out a few times a summer!
Having read your blog for a while, I would never call you LAZY!!! But I agree that taking a boat out for a sail is a time commitment… and simply maintaining it is another time commitment. Here’s to the possibility of a good friend with a sailboat entering your life!
Fascinating, Will! And you singing this song = gorgeous and deeply touching.
(( Hugs my friend ))
THANK YOU! I have heard a rumor that we might be sharing the pleasure of your company for dinner in the near future… Hurrah!
Ah, yes! Nature and the Universe are so clever. So complex and amazing and magical. From the miracle of a song and a voice that conveys its notes to the flight of an airplane. Wow.
THANK YOU for making time to visit my site, roughwighting!!! I agree about finding miracles in what may seem at first glance to be ordinary… yet upon reflection is likely to become extraordinary.
Music is always extraordinary to me. Think about it – just some notes, from an instrument and/or a voice – and our being is entirely uplifted. Can’t get much more extraordinary than that!
I didn’t like this song until I heard you and Doug do it😄🎶
Thank you, Judy, for listening and reading! It was not high on my list of songs to learn or record — partly because Bette Midler’s version is so iconic — but it was a request of this grieving wife (who is also a fan/supporter of my and Bobbi’s and Doug’s work together).