Lots of people have discovered the Lost Chord, but didn't know it or call it that. It's actually a whole class of lost chords. Coming from me, I bet you can figure out that you can't play them in equal temperament.
If you recall Harry Partch's "One Footed Bride" and other measures of interval consonance, you'll see a big lump - the foot if you will - near the octave (2/1):
The Bride's missing left foot (1/1) is actually where the Lost Chords reside. That is to say, the mind altering, fascinating, hypnotic chords of song and story are the extremely close intervals near 1/1. Anyone with a comb filter or chorus/flange effect could have told you that, but here's the thing: as the interference beats get slower, the more this timbral fusion passes from a perceived effect to a composition itself. Also, you need a really stable and pure bunch of sound sources, which my apps Droneo and Srutibox amply provide.
Sir Arthur Sullivan - or rather Adelaide Anne Proctor - appropriately provides a clue in that the Lost Chord is played on an organ, which has the feature of rather stable tuning and lack of modulation - which means a pair of really closely tuned reeds or pipes could actually produce "Lost Chords". In fact, it's hard to imagine any meaningful practical microtonal research without the stability of reed and pipe organ "oscillators". Strings, except for Ellen Fullman's Long String Instrument, have too many unstabilizing influences!
If you play with the harmonic sliders, the timbre will change. There's also a convenient "zero" button for each one. You'll hear each harmonic beating in and out by how many times the period is divided by the harmonic number. That is, if it's a 20 second beat, and you crank up the 4th harmonic, it'll beat every 5 seconds. That's where the micro sequences of polyrhythms comes from. You can also type a number into box next to the slider in case you want to be more precise. Underneath the Seconds to Cycle text box, it shows the frequency of the second signal and its ratio compared with the base frequency.
You can set the pitch of the base frequency using the convenient buttons, and drop it or increase it by octaves. You can also type in the frequency of your choice for more precision. The "Beating" frequency can be changed with the slider, showing how long a beat of the 1/1 pitch will be (all others are
beat time/harmonic), and you can also type in a direct ratio or calculate it as a numerator/denominator or cents value. When these change, the time, ratio, and cents are updated, and the numerator is set, based on the demoninator. No ratio can be below 1.0 (or 0 cents).
Interesting effects happen when you set up high harmonics of a low note that beat really slowly. In this interface, you can type in any numbers you like, while the sliders are just for convenience and have a more constrained range of values.
There are a few convenient presets for initializing and processing the harmonic content.
|Seconds to cycle|
||Ratio calc helpers: num/den: / cents:|
|Start Audio||Stop Audio|
|Clear All||Clears all harmonics|
|Clear Top||Clears the top octave|
|Clear Bottom||Clears all harmonics below 17th|
|Keep Odd||Leaves odd harmonics|
|Spike||Sets all harmonics to 1.0|
|Triangle||Sets all harmonics to 1.0/n|
|Elgnairt||Like triangle, but backward|
|Odd Harmonics||Only Odd harmonics, set to 1.0|
|Scale High Down||Quiets higher harmonics|
|Scale High Up||Loudens higher harmonics|
|Scale Low Down||Quiets lower harmonics|
|Scale Low Up||Loudens lower harmonics|
|Scale Down by Half||Decrease all amplitudes by 0.5|
|Scale Up by Half||Increase all amplitudes by 1.5|
|Scale Smooth||Smooths amplitudes with neighboring ones|
|Start Audio||Stop Audio|