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location Cologne, Germany
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Functional programming enthusiast, audio engineer & musician. Whilst not busy with any of that, I study physics at Universität zu Köln / Bonn-Cologne Graduate School.


Jun
8
comment What is causing this weird distortion coming from my amp?
You're probably just not giving it enough peak level from the computer, that's why you don't hear distortion (modern mastered tracks, due to RMS optimisation, sound much louder at the same levels than a raw guitar signal). At any rate the keyboard is distorted in much the same way as the guitar, so this definitely is about the amp.
Jun
8
comment What are the significant schools of 20th century music theory?
For a moment I was getting really excited, thinking this theory had something to do with Riemannian manifolds. Pity, it's another Riemann guy.
Jun
8
comment What is causing this weird distortion coming from my amp?
Sorry to say, but I'm afraid there's no problem as such here – it's just not a very good amp. Actually, most guitar amps have a substantial amount of distortion even in "clean" mode and at low levels if you measure it, only, in a good tube amp this comes over more as a pleasant kind of soft-compression. In a bad transistor amp, it comes over as a nasty rasp, that's just the way it is.
Jun
8
comment In Pythagorean tuning, what's the frequency of the tonic of each key?
While this correctly explains how you can find an arbitrary root note in Pythagorean tuning, it doesn't answer whether it would be a good idea to do that. Indeed I would argue it isn't a good idea.
Jun
7
comment Can flat notes be played on a chromatic harmonica?
@Tim: as "the original Blues instruments" I'd consider the human voice, which is not tuned in any temperament (most definitely not 12-edo), along with Blues harp (diatonic), Diddley bow (untuned), and slide guitar. Sure enough adaptions for piano and banjo / spanish-style guitar would quickly appear, but that's just approximations. "An instrument that plays G# out of tune to another's Ab is impractical" – no it isn't, e.g. flutes and clarinets certainly do that (though the player may trim manually). And let's not start with string instruments.
Jun
4
comment What is a “Chord of Nature”?
"above-5 harmonics are hard to discern" doesn't hold much truth as such. It's very easy to discern, say, the 8th from 9th harmonic, that's an ordinary whole-tone step (just/Pythagorean)! And harmonics higher than the 5th sure are very audible in most instrument sounds. What you're referring to is 5-limit, which means all intervals which are employed musically can be interpreted as compounds of the first 5 harmonics' relations. But that's largely a matter of what's easily implemented as an instrument tuning and what you're used to hear.
Jun
1
comment Appropriate temperament for violin
@BobRodes: actually, there is a third (plus two octaves) between the viola's C-string and the violin's E. The outer strings of each instrument make up a twelfth. That already does make for a notable difference between Pythagorean tuning (what you get from tuning all neighbouring strings in perfect fifths) and just or 12-edo tuning. — But apart from that: I was under the impression that the OP indeed asked about fingered notes. It is most certainly possible to differentiate between equal temperament and just intonation here, and good players will in fact do that (even if not consciously).
May
26
comment Why isn't D the “most central” note?
The symmetry of Dorian mode is also present in Pythagorean tuning (which goes very naturally with Wicky-Hayden), rather older than 12-edo!
May
26
comment Appropriate temperament for violin
Your answer is quite right, but that's not what the OP is asking for. Tuning the open strings in 12-edo is certainly fine because 12-edo fifths are extremely close to perfect (3:2) fifths. This question is about whether you should tune the fingered notes in 12-edo or just intonation. — @Codeswitcher: western fiddle music is generally played in a hard-to-define "dynamic intonation", where each note is tuned individually as the player sees fit. That's a big part of the expressiveness in these styles. Indeed the pitches will normally be closer to 12-edo or Pythagorean than just intonation.
May
26
comment Appropriate temperament for violin
@BobRodes: it is relevant because whereas a perfect fifth sounds really good in 12-edo, the pitch relation this tuning gives for a major third sounds less than pleasing if played on, say, two string instruments (though vibrato and lush emsemble unisono can mostly obscure this).
May
26
comment Appropriate temperament for violin
@Tim: "Any particular interval in any key is now the same as that same interval in a different key" that absolutely holds for just intonation as well. Which is my point: there is not one single just-intonation pitch for a given note name, each key requires different fine tunings (hence that app can't possibly work for just intonation). Hardly any musician knows exactly how to do that, but they can feel it while playing. There is no problem here that equal temperament would fix (though it does fix problems which can arise from comma pumps etc.).
May
25
comment Add pre amp to audio interface to enhance sound quality?
"Also with high distortion, I experience clipping..." you're aware that distortion is nothing but clipping (deliberately shaped in a particular way)?
May
25
comment Appropriate temperament for violin
Neither. Forget about apps like that. If you take what's "correct pitch" from any kind of display it'll greatly obstruct you in getting a proper feel of what pitch is right in a given musical context. And what's correct does depend on context: there's no such thing as a single "just scale". Just intonation always needs a particular key and harmonic relationship to be well-defined. OTOH, equal temperament is always well-defined (it's a sort of one-size-fits-all approximation to just intonation), but apart from being not ideal it doesn't really help you in understanding intervals etc..
May
25
comment Why is music theory built so tightly around the C Major scale?
"G# is different than Ab, despite being (tonally) the same note" I think you mean "frequency-wise the same". That's not even true, only by conincidence it works out in 12-edo (and though keyboards and guitars default to 12-edo, it is not "the one correct" tuning in any way). Even then, as cyco says G♯ has not the same function in a given key as A♭, so they still wouldn't sound the same.
May
20
comment Are we all born with the ability to detect a note out of tune?
I think that works similar to how we derive diatonic scales from 5- or 7-limit just intonation. An equal-tempered 3/4 step is almost exactly 12:11 in ratio (150.637 cents), so that would be the obvious derivation. (Cf. the just / Pythagorean whole step 9:8 at 203.91 cents, actually rather more off!)
May
20
comment Are we all born with the ability to detect a note out of tune?
Good point, you wouldn't notice wrong 3/4 steps if you don't notice wrong 3/4 steps! — As I said, I know close to nothing about Maqamat (is that the correct plural?), but they certainly are not derived from 24-edo like dodecacophony is from 12-edo, but from something different. Singers will tune intuitively according to some physical / physiological guide, and whatever that is in Arabic music it should be perceptible to the listener as well.
May
20
comment Are we all born with the ability to detect a note out of tune?
Well, my question was: have you actually heard any out-of-tune middle-eastern performance yet, without noticing anything wrong? I haven't, but I think I would notice it if they hit the 3/4-tone steps wrongly. Because, and that was my point about 12-edo temperament, the piano keys are not really how most listeners categorise notes. Rather, you notice certain intervals within the harmonies and melodies, and those intervals can be derived from some kind of just intonation; the principles are the same in Western through Indian music, though the tunings restrict you to different groupings.
May
20
comment Are we all born with the ability to detect a note out of tune?
How do you know you couldn't sense a middle-eastern singer being out of tune? I'm pretty sure I could, though I know little about arabic scales. Only, bad performances are rather unlikely to ever make it to Westerner's ears! — Also: I doubt you hear "in a well-tempered tone system", otherwise Barbershop singing ought to sound pretty horrible to you. You hear just intonation and leading notes and you're used to the 12-edo approximation of these concepts.
May
14
comment How do you check or correct the FOH sound engineer?
In my experience, fans tend to give horrible advice. Most either say everything's fine regardless of what a complete mess the sound is, or always say the vocals are too quiet when the problem lies somewhere completely different that just happens to make the voice incomprehensible. Of course, you can't generalise this – there will usually be some guys that know a good bit about sound, but you should know whom to ask. But +1 for the other paragraphs. When the engineer is bad then loud criticism from stage usually won't help much either, better let them concentrate as good as they can.
May
10
comment Are smartphone tuner apps reliable?
I think more problematic than the limited frequency response (a properly designed autocorrelation algorithm won't be affected too much by this) is the distortions bad cell phone microphones indroduce, possibly mingling the instrument sound with environment noise to cause intermodulation shifting.