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In Lady Gaga's song featuring Elton John "Sine From Above", she sang that she has heard a "sine" from the sky. Sine is defined as the very famous mathematical function in Cambridge dictionary. There do not seem to be other senses.

The lyrics are:

I heard one sine from above.
Then the signal split in two.
The sound created stars like me and you.
Before there was up, there was silence.
I heard one sine
And it healed my heart, heard a sine.

LyricFind via Google search

She sings she heard "one sine" from above. Does she mean she heard a sound (signal) (which can be transformed with Fourier's decomposition with sums of cosines and sines?)

Is it common for English speakers to confound a sine and a sound? Can I do the symmetric thing and say that "I heard a cosine" ?

Maybe there is also something linked to a "signal" which is similar so "sine" for the pronunciation?

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    "Signal" isn't pronounced anything like sine - "sign", on the other hand, is pronounced exactly like "sine".
    – user888379
    Jan 9, 2023 at 20:12
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    This is what we call a Bot+ question, that’s all. Autogenerated + human tweak. Jan 10, 2023 at 3:45
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    might be worth mentioning that to someone who works with electronic music, the sound of a sine wave is very distinctive, since it's a completely pure tone with no harmonics. Most likely if Lady Gaga heard a sine from above, she would recognise it as such. (A cosine, on the other hand, would sound exactly the same.)
    – N. Virgo
    Jan 10, 2023 at 6:28
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    Where were the lyrics quoted from? (a) A proper citation is needed (b) They may not have been transcribed correctly.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 10, 2023 at 10:55
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    @Aruralreader what would be the point of doing this? Jan 11, 2023 at 8:39

4 Answers 4

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It's just wordplay with its homophone sign, representing the shape of of music as a signal. Wikipedia cites an interview with Gaga:

She said: "S-I-N-E, because it's a sound wave. That sound, sine, from above is what healed me to be able to dance my way out of this album... That was later in the recording process that I actually was like, 'And now let me pay tribute to the very thing that has revived me, and that is music." The sine wave also appears on the cover art for Chromatica, and based on its lyrics Billboard considered "Sine from Above" to be "Gaga's mission statement for the album".

If you look up math related puns, it's a pretty common premise.

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    May be worth adding the context that any pure, single-frequency note without overtones etc is a sine wave. And any more complex sound can be and often is thought of a sum of multiple sine waves, each with their own frequency, amplitude and phase.
    – bdsl
    Jan 10, 2023 at 13:54
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Sine here clearly means sign:

Sign and sine are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones.

(Grammarphobia)

From harpersbazaar.com

The title is a play on words about how music was an escape for Gaga when she was in a place of hurt. "S-I-N-E, because it's a sound wave," she explained to Apple Music. "That sound, sine, from above is what healed me to be able to dance my way out of this album.

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    If it's a play on words, it means both sine and sign. Jan 9, 2023 at 20:27
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Sine is wordplay distinct to the song. It has at least two senses.

First, it refers to a sine wave, which Lady Gaga has identified as a sound wave. In an interview series she did with Apple Music (via Wikipedia), she says it was supposed to celebrate how music helped heal her:

S-I-N-E, because it's a sound wave. That sound, sine, from above is what healed me to be able to dance my way out of this album... That was later in the recording process that I actually was like, 'And now let me pay tribute to the very thing that has revived me, and that is music.'

Second, it's a pun on sign. A "sign from above" is sometimes used to refer to a revelations or omens from God. So Lady Gaga is putting music (via the symbol of a sine wave) in the place of a typical omen or sign.

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First off, an English speaker wouldn't normally use the word "sine" in a daily conversation; it's a technical term used by mathematicians and engineers. Now, keep in mind Lady Gaga is working within the realm of poetry here. The meaning is not necessary literal but open to interpretation. With that in mind, here's my interpretation: The "sine" here is in fact a sound, but it carries with it associations of the science of acoustics, Fourier decomposition, mathematical analysis, etc. The language she's using is painting the picture a certain way. She's describing the scene almost like a scientific observation. "Signal" is another word with technical connotations. "Hear a sine" is a pun on "see a sign". To get "a sign from above" is to receive a blessing from heaven, with associations of religious imagery, so you've got those themes in the mix as well. As a final note, I would advise against any and all conversational usage of "cosine".

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    "I would advise against any and all conversational usage of cosine" -- too bad one can't cosine a loan.
    – KCd
    Jan 10, 2023 at 22:52
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    @KCd I think you're going off on a tangent now. Jan 11, 2023 at 14:57
  • @DarrelHoffman that's an effect of circular reasoning.
    – KCd
    Jan 11, 2023 at 15:32
  • Obligatory xkcd xkcd.com/2501 Just because OP knows about Fourier analysis, he shouldn't assume that a singer/songwriter does. Jan 11, 2023 at 17:22

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