For questions generally relating to systems of note frequency assignment.

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41
votes
10answers
14k views

Why are orchestras tuned differently?

In 1936 American Standards Association (and the International Organization for Standardization in 1955) accepted that A would be tuned at 440 Hz (or cycles per second). Yet despite the fact that a ...
29
votes
5answers
2k views

Examples of songs or phrases played in different temperaments

I've read about the fact that 12 tone equal temperament is a relatively recent phenomenon, and that historically, each key would have a different character due to the unequal temperament. I'm curious ...
30
votes
5answers
10k views

Does it really make difference to play a song in a different key?

I hear sometimes players and composers say that this song won't sound good in F Major for example, and you should play it or write it in G Major (this was just an example). In other words, it seems ...
25
votes
5answers
4k views

Why are pianos traditionally tuned “out of tune” at the extremes?

My understanding is that the vast majority of western music uses equal temperament, i.e. all semitones have a frequency ratio of the 12th root of 2. However I can hear in my piano that the notes at ...
5
votes
1answer
630 views

Natural vs tempered semi-tones

I am reading "Fundamentals of Musical Composition" by Arnold Schoenberg. Chapter XI, page 99, states: Chromaticism is difficult partly because the natural semi-tones differ in size from the ...
2
votes
3answers
173 views

Colour of keys in the era of equal-temperament

As I understand it, the great bulk of music from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras are at least these days performed on equal temperament instruments. And yet there is still a great deal of ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Software for microtonal MIDI?

I'm looking to make some microtonal music (19/22 tone equal temperament). I want to produce it with midi. Timidity++ used to be able to produce a WAV file from a microtonal tuned .MID file, but it is ...
6
votes
1answer
431 views

Evidence of Just Intonation in Recordings with Non-fixed-frequency Instruments

I wonder the extent to which string quartets or a cappella choirs are non-ET. They are often cited as examples of the tendency towards just intonation when not using fixed-frequency instruments but I'...
5
votes
2answers
422 views

What is the significance of Pythagorean comma (as in why is there a need to end in the same place)?

The following two links provide a brief introduction to Pythagorean comma: Pythagorean Comma - Indiana University The "Pythagorean Comma" - Jody Nagel The wikipedia article on this subject is also ...
2
votes
4answers
712 views

Why does it take 700 cents to get to a perfect 5th, which is 3/2 (one and a half) from the root?

I think I have the wrong perspective. If you take an octave and express it in cents, you get 1200. Half of that is 600. A perfect 5th is 1.5 (3/2) of the root. But 600 is not a perfect fifth, 700 ...
11
votes
4answers
702 views

How does the harmonic series affect consonance?

NOTE: for the purpose of this question, assume we are talking about 12-TET and assume that references to overtones in the harmonic series are being referred to in relationship to the 12-TET note that ...
8
votes
3answers
171 views

Continuous Music Theory

Is there a musical theory of harmony or a system of chord-understanding that does not rely on the 12-tone temperament? For example, a fretless instrument has (theoretically) an infinity of tones ...
8
votes
2answers
546 views

How can I play my new tenor recorder (a'=440) along with someone playing a harpsichord (a'=415)?

From an article I read online, I believe I've understood that it's possible to treat the middle C (fingers covering all holes) on the tenor as if it were a D flat, and all higher notes on the ...