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32

Music, as an art, is in the ear of the listener. As a musician, I can say there are definitely times when a song sounds "better" in one key than another. The primary reason this is so is when the key fits the "natural" range of a singer or instrument. A song may sound perfect when sung by a female alto, but as those notes sung verbatim would be at the top ...


25

There are physical and psychoacoustics reasons behind it. A vibrating string held by its two extremities can only vibrate at certain frequencies (cycles per second, expressed in Hertz, i.e. 440 Hz = 440 cycles/second), which relates to the characteristics of the string (e.g. its weight per unit of length, its flexibility) and how it is used (e.g. the ...


19

In modern Western music, we use equal temperament where all keys are basically equivalent. Notes are based on 2 n/12. Using A440 as a base, you get the following: A = 440 Hz * 2 0/12 = 440 Hz B♭ = 440 Hz * 2 1/12 = ~466 Hz B = 440 Hz * 2 2/12 = ~494 Hz etc. Historically this was not the case, however. Just intonation ruled the world, where notes ...


17

It is often a matter of tradition inside the orchestra that becomes out of control for conductors. When they create their own orchestra they have the pleasure to decide this for themselves. The conservatism from musicians has several reasons: Some Orchestra have a concert hall with a large organ which is tuned for this frequency Wind players usually ...


17

Here are links to YouTube videos, all three of which were posted by the same person, using the same synthesizer, all three playing Bach's Air on the G String. But each link uses a different tuning system: Equal Temperament: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6XkgNT20Eg Just Intonation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdL8aPQUOk0 Pythagorean Tuning: http://www....


12

You are exactly correct that it is the logarithmic nature of pitch that causes this effect. In cases like this, I find that a picture is helpful. Here I've labeled equally spaced octaves (1200 cents) along the x-axis (representing pitch). I've then labeled the corresponding frequencies on the y-axis as multiples of some arbitrary base frequency f. Note that ...


11

As a brassplayer, 442 on up seriously sucks. We are placed in the position of playing where the instrument doesn't resonate in the same way. Even 4 cents difference will render the slides too long even if the open instrument can be accomodated to a higher tuning frequency. Fie on brighter tuning!


11

There is exactly one note that is a diminished 3rd above Db: Fb. Db to Eb is not a diminished third, it is a major second. Those comments are wrong. This question explains the difference between two enharmonically equivalent notes.


11

A trivial answer : yes. When I was quite young I wrote a computer program to spit out a succession of 'beeps' at random frequencies not related to any musical scale; I suspect many people who have a computer and a bit of an interest in music have done the same. In practice how close you could get to infinity (!) would be limited by the resolution at which ...


9

Orchestras tune higher if they can get away with it because higher pitches sound more brilliant. This has led to inflation of standard pitch over time. There are, however, practical limits to how much inflation is possible, since audiences will cry foul if the result is closer to the next semitone up. Also, some instruments, such as pianos, can be damaged ...


9

Logic Pro has built-in controls for using different temperaments. Check out the link below: http://documentation.apple.com/en/logicpro/usermanual/index.html#chapter=43%26section=6%26tasks=true It allows you to either select a pre-configured tuning system, or customize your own. MAX/MSP is another solution, but if you don't have programming experience, ...


9

Microtonal is tricky on MIDI because it separates the space between half-tones into 128 equal notes. I'm surprised any normal MIDI player won't integrate pitch bend as a microtonal parameter - is that how you are doing it? I've been trying to work on a continuous pitch controller in MIDI. the issue is that depending on the MIDI player, the 0-128 can send ...


9

It's almost always a non-issue. Keep in mind that keyboards and pitched percussion are really the extent of the fixed-frequency instruments. All wind instruments use the breath, embouchure, and occasionally tuning slide adjustments or alternate fingerings to adjust tuning on the small scale. Even guitarists have some options for tuning adjustment, but ...


9

Standard tuning for solo violin in classical music is just intonation. Tune the A string and, from there, tune the other strings with just-intonated perfect fifths. Some times, as a compromise you may need to tune the violin temperate, for example when you need to play many open strings in duo/ensemble with a instrument not capable of just-intonation. ...


8

This blog post compares the three forms of the minor seventh (with sound samples). His conclusion is that the harmonic seventh (7/4) is used as a blue note, but that it is too stable for use in a dominant seventh chord. The extra dissonance of 16/9 gives it the need to resolve that is lacking in 7/4.


8

We first need to categorize each interval, assign it a "consonance amount". That's the first problem we find. In the case of the fourth, for example, some consider it perfect consonance, and others consider it a dissonance, depending context (and who you ask). For simplicity, let's define ours based on Wikipedia's: 1: Perfect consonances: unison, octave, ...


8

A pithy way of saying it is that intonation is the process by which a temperament is achieved. Intonation is what is done in order that the sound is produced at the desired/intended pitch. This can be done as part of instrument setup, e.g. "setting the guitar intonation", or as an integral part of performing the music, e.g. as in expressive intonation. ...


7

My answer is no, it isn't really possible to use a fingering technique to play an A440 recorder at A415. No professional would even try; they would instead, as Wheat noted, have a real A415 instrument or, if extremely confident and well rehearsed, transpose on-the-fly down a half-step. One can indeed bend most notes up or down quite a bit using half-holes, ...


6

Assuming that the intonation and tambre of the instruments/voices were maintained, there is one main difference that is dependent on the way you listen to music. People with strong relative pitch listen to a piece as a progression of intervals. The arpeggio C-E-G would be heard as M3-m3. This is a very effective way to think of music, but is also not the ...


6

An article by Joe Monzo at http://tonalsoft.com/enc/s/savart.aspx defines the savart as 1/300 of an octave. A savart is calculated as the 300th root of 2, or 2(1/300), with a ratio of approximately 1:1.002313162. It is an irrational number. A savart has an interval size of approximately 4 cents. savart = 1000log10(f2/f1) cents = 1200log2(f2/f1)


6

As per the app you were asking, Pythagorean is the temperament you're looking for. The perfect fifth is the 2:3 frequency ratio (and small rational number frequency ratios are required for the sympathetic vibrations to work). So if your A string is 440Hz, the tuning is as follows: E - 660Hz A - 440Hz D - 293.33Hz G - 195.56Hz If you tune by ear from A, ...


6

Maybe somewhat controversial. There is definitely some serious hokum going on here, you're right. BUT, I think you're underestimating the color differences a number of keys have on some instruments. The string section is the most dramatic—they generally have three strings that are free to vibrate sympathetically when they are playing a single pitch on the ...


6

Yes, and one can go a little bit further. The traditional qualities associated with common keys in the 18th century can be correlated with orchestration, in that different instruments sounded better (or, sometimes, could only really play well) in certain keys. Examples: A and E major had the reputation of being "fiery" -- probably because both keys would ...


6

As some of the other answers have eluded to, there are two basic problems with your question: The first is the question of how you generalize a "tritone" in a non-12-TET based system. One possibility is to interpret it literally as three whole tones (which then begs the question as to how you define a whole tone in a non 12-tone system). Another ...


6

"Harmonies" by Gyorgy Ligeti is an interesting example of microtonal music. It's written for organ, but it's intended to be played with reduced air and manipulation of the stops, so the pipes don't play at their designed frequency. With (mainly) slow chord changes and wide voicings the overall effect is a slowly evolving harmony and dissonance through the ...


5

I'm temped to say that all professional strings, winds, and choirs do this to some extent--you'll just be able to hear it with more clarity in small ensembles like a string quartet. A string quartet that played out of tune simply wouldn't be considered at a professional level. My trombone quartet, for example, worked on this to great extent just as an ...



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