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(Scientific pitch notation) For example:

Organs can go down to C-1

Hyperbass Flute goes down to C0

And these notes have neglegible overtones on these instruments!

Do they modulate other notes? They certainly can not be heard, as C-1 is ~8Hz, max overtones ~10-15 Hz (On Organ)

3
  • Human hearing is a range that can differ between individuals by several orders of magnitude. There is no one note that you could pick as being the "last useful one". Jan 3, 2022 at 9:16
  • 5
    According to Wikipedia, the only two 64’ (C -1) organ stops in the world are pipes that have plenty of overtones. Also, even though flutes are some of the most pure-toned acoustic instruments, that doesn’t mean they are 100% pure toned. Jan 3, 2022 at 15:04
  • Orthogonally, one does not find many 32' acoustic organ pipes in deadened recording studios or outdoors. The room is part of the instrument and elite organists definitely know how different instruments will 'develop' in the space when those tones are used.
    – Affe
    Jan 4, 2022 at 21:32

3 Answers 3

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We hear with our ears, but other body parts are susceptible to vibrations.

The percussionist/drummer Evelyn Glennie is profoundly deaf, and apparently uses her bare feet to detect vibrations - which we probably all feel, but are not so aware of.

There's a new device on the market which incorporates earphones and (I suspect) a speaker which attaches to one's body producing sub-hearing vibrations.

Younger humans have a much wider hearing range than older ones, so maybe us olduns get to rely on more than just our ears - sympathetic vibrations of some organs works for me...

2
  • Delightfully unclear whether "some organs" refers to musical instruments or a heart flutter. Jan 4, 2022 at 15:42
  • @Paul_Pedant - or perhaps one's F# wit..?
    – Tim
    Jan 4, 2022 at 16:00
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If you listen to hyperbass flute recordings on Youtube, its sound has clearly higher harmonics that can be heard, and the keys have strong percussive sound. It is also possible that the fundamental tone is noticeable as vibration when the instrument is played live.

This is not that uncommon with other low pitched instruments: For example guitars, bass guitars and pianos have quite weak fundamental frequencies in the lower register but most of the energy is in higher harmonics. It's also really different from normal flute that has very strong fundamental frequency.

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  • 1
    @Tim I think it would be accurate to say that those instruments can have weak fundamentals in their lowest notes, depending on the construction. For example, a spinet is just not going to have strong resonance in its soundboard for the fundamentals of its lowest notes. A 9’ grand would be a different story. Jan 3, 2022 at 15:07
  • 2
    @ToddWilcox I'm not sure which "Yamaha grand piano" was used here, but have a look at acs.psu.edu/drussell/Piano/Dynamics.html
    – ojs
    Jan 3, 2022 at 15:13
  • 1
    jjburred.com/research/pdf/burred_acoustics_piano.pdf page 30 is also interesting, even if it quotes an older paper for the actual measurements
    – ojs
    Jan 3, 2022 at 15:18
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    I think yes, in live performance, it may be heard indeed. But the question still remains... does it MODULATE the sound of an orchestra, for example?? Does that unheard C#0 or B-1 etc. from the hyperbass flute or pipe organ, respectively, influence how the higher/normal flute(s), the piano, or Horn sounds ???
    – Feliks_WR
    Jan 4, 2022 at 6:41
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    @Feliks_WR No, it doesn't. Look up missing fundamental effect.
    – ojs
    Jan 4, 2022 at 6:44
3

You can't hear them as pitches, but that doesn't mean that you cannot sense them at all. You can feel the vibrations in the air.

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