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Are the frequencies C4 = 260 Hz and A4 = 440 Hz actually noticeably different to someone with “perfect pitch”? I ask myself, what did they learn differently growing up to notice the difference in these tones? Are they constantly able to compare the tones from memory or something?

I could understand learning to recognize tones in comparison to one another (intervals), as those have a clear difference in sound but I’m having trouble understanding how one can recognize them individually. How can a tone be recognized as different without another tone to compare it to? We constantly see different colors and are always naturally comparing them with one another.

To me, if I tune my guitar to eadgbe there’s virtually no difference (except maybe bass, tenor, soprano, etc. voice classifications), than if I tune my piccolo guitar to adgcea. Same concept as if a song is in the key of C major vs. the key of F major. What difference does it make which tones are used to tune an instrument or form a scale as long as the intervals are the same? What then, would be the purpose of “perfect pitch”?

Why is A4 considered between 432 Hz and 446 Hz? https://pages.mtu.edu/~suits/notefreqs.html This is also why I still don’t exactly understand what microtones are either. How many distinct tones can we supposedly hear and rationalize as being different? As with color, there’s only red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and of course the shades (brown, pink, white, black, etc.) but there’s only about 12 that we can perceive as different.

I understand that how we calculate frequencies is logarithmic, as in, an interval between two higher notes spans a greater difference in frequency than the same interval between two lower notes. But how many recognizable tones are there for these perfect pitch folks? Can they differentiate microtones too, or are those just a part of our 12 tones — does anybody have any information on that?

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8 Answers 8

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I don't have perfect pitch, but I've had several friends over the years who did.

Are the frequencies C4 260hz and A4 440hz actually noticeably different to someone with “perfect pitch”.

Yes.

I ask myself, What did they learn differently growing up to notice the difference in these tones?

It may be at least partly innate. I once met someone who claimed to have perfect pitch despite no musical training. It was difficult to test, obviously, but he seemed credible.

I’m having trouble understanding how one can recognize them individually.

Because you don't have perfect pitch.

We constantly see different colors and are always naturally comparing them with one another.

But you can identify blue without reference to other colors, can't you?

Why is A4 considered between 432hz and 446hz?

It's purely convention and standardization. It's not absolute. I've sung in many concerts at A4 = 415 Hz and one or two where it was 465 Hz. Some people with perfect pitch are irritated by this.

This is also why I still don’t exactly understand what microtones are either. How many distinct tones can we supposedly hear and rationalize as being different. As with color, there’s only red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and of course the shades (brown, pink, white, black etc) but there’s only about 12 that we can perceive as different.

But you can see ten different shades of blue and recognize that they're different. The same is true with pitches. The ability to discern two different pitches is greater when they sound simultaneously. Also, the difference between two slightly different harmonic intervals can be easier to hear than the difference between the individual pitches (e.g. A=220 and E=330 vs A=220 and E=328).

how many recognizable tones are there for these perfect pitch folks, can they differentiate microtones too or are those just a part of our 12 tones, does anybody have any information on that?

I'm not sure but I imagine that this depends somewhat on musical education and, yes, ear training.

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    @Lecifer Btw, beware of putting too much weight into visual analogies. There are overlaps—both deal with sensory perception—but it's possible to get the science very muddled with philosophical questions about epistemology, and wind up as confused as this poster Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 20:31
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    @AndyBonner Ok thanks I understand! I was definitely trying to keep it from being too philosophical. I was trying to give an analogy, to better explain what i'm asking with the "How many distinct tones can we supposedly hear and rationalize as being different" part.
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 20:55
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    @Lecifer I've never been much for microtonality as such. But then I realized that much of microtonality is about just intonation. There's not much difference between an equal tempered major third of roughly 1.259921:1 and the Pythagorean of exactly 1.265625:1 -- the difference is about 1/13 of a semitone. The just major third of 1.25 is about 1/7 of a semitone smaller than equal or about 1/5 of a semitone smaller than the Pythagorean. The difference is distinctly noticeable. Whether someone can hear the difference between 275.00 Hz, 277.18 Hz, and 278.44 Hz in isolation I can't say.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 21:38
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    @Lecifer ...much less whether someone with perfect pitch (or, better, absolute pitch) would regard them as distinct tones or as different shades of C sharp. But you can certainly hear the difference in full chords, and you can hear the effect of that same fifth-of-a-semitone difference even more keenly in the perfect fifth than in the major third.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 21:43
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    @phoog Yes exactly. I noticed that as well when I started looking into tunings. This chart as a quick reference: researchgate.net/figure/…. And true I guess there’s some nuance in what people perceive. I can also hear the difference but I personally would describe that as different shades of the same relationships. So do people with perfect pitch still hear keys as different from one another?
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 12:12
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Absolute pitch is not some superpower that you either have or not.

I believe that this ability is like a scale: You can have it in different degrees and you can improve it as you play more music.

Some people claim that I have absolute pitch. (Sorry to talk about myself, but it seems like you're trying to understand how it feels)

So, if you ask me to identify a pitch out of nowhere, I would usually be no more than a semi-tone off. I think that it is more accurate when I have been playing or listening to music in the last hour: Somehow the music still "echoes" in my head. So maybe it is related to memory.

But that's nowhere as accurate as the people from this question, who claims to hear when music is not tuned to A=440.

Oh, an important note: Absolute pitch doesn't make you a better musician. Sometimes it's convenient, and sometimes it's annoying.

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    The idea that the ability is like a scale is a huge part of my speculation. I just don't think the skill comes from literally nowhere. There is quite a few people that say perfect pitch is easily developed as a child in comparison to learning it as an adult. That's why i'm speculating about it being generated from relative pitch training as a child, and actually mentally learning to understand the difference between tones. Hearing singular tones as well as chords in organized methods and giving name or meaning to them (as they say people do in tonal languages). Thank you for this answer btw!
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 22:12
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    But then again, I guess by definition some would say you don't have perfect pitch. As in, if someone has it they're supposed to be able to name them as if we were to easily say red is different from blue.
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 22:19
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    Also, what is it that you perceive as being different between tones? I know one is "lower and higher" but thats only within an octave.
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 12:50
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    @Lecifer Upvoted this because I think it's a crucial point that you've been missing so far. I'm not sure whether there are humans who can listen to a single reference pitch and tell you that it's one cent off (especially a pitch other than A 440 vs 441, where they give a lot more scrutiny to it). But there are plenty who can "round" to the nearest semitone. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 17:13
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    I like this answer. Perfect pitch isn't "perfect" in the sense of being able to discern arbitrarily small deviations in frequency, it just represents an ability to "bucket" a narrow band of pitches into a note name. I imagine most people could listen to a very high, middle, and very low pitched note, and be able to tell you which of the three it was later on without referencing the other two notes. Perfect pitch just lets you do that with smaller divisions between notes. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 19:33
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I speak as a person with absolute pitch.

Are the frequencies C4 260hz and A4 440hz actually noticeably different to someone with “perfect pitch”.

Yes, they are. In fact, they should also be noticeably different to those without musical training. They'd just call the A4 "higher" and the C4 "lower".

I ask myself, What did they learn differently growing up to notice the difference in these tones? Are they constantly able to compare the tones from memory or something?

I've read that some people were just born this way and others, who quote studies that claim that Chinese people are significantly more likely to have absolute pitch, say that exposure to tonal languages such as Chinese increases the likelihood that you develop absolute pitch (due to the relentless need to distinguish between words solely by inner differences in pitch - extremes in Mandarin Chinese include the several lookalike and sound-alike words pronounced "ma" but meaning mom, horse, scold, hemp, "question mark", and more, distinguished verbally only by whether they drop, rise, do both, or stay level in pitch). Personally, I have been committing music recordings to memory ever since I was a small child, right down to the instrumentation, and I think that contributed to me already sight-singing in Grade 7 and starting to develop absolute pitch in Grade 8 (the first note I memorized for absolute pitch was Middle C). I had a whole wealth of musical samples to compare outside sounds to back then (and now).

To me, if I tune my guitar to eadgbe there’s virtually no difference (except maybe bass, tenor, soprano, etc voice classifications),than if I tune my piccolo guitar to adgcea. Same concept as if a song is in the key of C Major vs the key of F major. What difference does it make which tones are used to tune an instrument/form a scale as long as the intervals are the same. What then, would be the purpose of “perfect pitch”?

It makes a difference the moment you want to write down and notate your music. It also makes a difference the moment you want to play that music on an instrument. All of a sudden, you need to know what component notes your music is made of. Perfect pitch helps you determine those notes.

Why is A4 considered between 432hz and 446hz?

That is pure convention. A440 wasn't even widely accepted in the 18th century. Baroque tunings of A vary from A415 to even approx. 1 whole tone above 440 Hz (the latter can be found in some organ scores in the Musescore website if you search hard enough). All bets are off for written A4 - transposing instruments are determined to make it play back as G4 (e.g. B♭ clarinet), C4 (e.g. alto sax), and more.

But how many recognizable tones are there for these perfect pitch folks, can they differentiate microtones too or are those just a part of our 12 tones, does anybody have any information on that?

These days, I can recognize close enough attempts to quarter tones. For example, to me, "Rude Buster" from Deltarune is in F♯-G half-sharp minor, and this is consistent with fan transcriptions of it being split between F sharp minor and G minor. (In fact, that piece's composer, Toby Fox, has a habit of inadvertently creating more examples of these quarter tone-key pieces by shifting music speed by square percentages such as 5%.) Other examples of microtones I've heard include the main regular boss theme of Final Fantasy Mystic Quest being in B-C half-sharp minor and "Meat Golem" from Super Meat Boy playing approx. F -> F-G♭ half-flat -> F within mere seconds of its start.

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"Perfect Pitch: Are tones recognizable by themselves or only in comparison with another tone?"

By definition, 'Perfect Pitch' recognises tones absolutely, without any reference. When a pitch can only be named with reference to a previously heard one, it's called 'Relative Pitch'.

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    Yup exactly! I know that's how perfect pitch has commonly been defined but what i'm getting at is that i'm not sure how that is definition is accurate. Are people coming out of the womb with better pitch recognition, or is it that they are being trained in relative pitch which develops into "perfect pitch". I'm thinking that even if you have perfect pitch at some point, you memorized what each tone sounds like in reference to the other tones in the octave. Maybe i'm incorrect, but i'm also just wondering if anyone has any scientific information on the subject as well.
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 20:37
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    @Lecifer do you know anyone with perfect pitch? Have you talked to them about it? They universally describe exactly what you are unsure of. Perfect pitch is defined that way because that's what it is. Someone with perfect pitch hears a recording of a sonata in F played at A = 415 Hz and describes it as being in E. "at some point, you memorized what each tone sounds like in reference to the other tones in the octave": no, rather, they learn names for the distinct tones they had been hearing all along. It's not more powerful relative pitch; it's a different ability.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 21:16
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    @phoog No but I have seen some videos online about kids being nurtured and developing perfect pitch while they are young. The majority of us never have trouble with seeing the differences in colors but are our eyes are different than our ears? In other words, are you saying it is natural (nature), that some are born with the ability to clearly hear and then name a difference with tones as we are able to see and then name a difference in colors? This is the video i'm mainly referring to youtube.com/watch?v=TgFdics3uKo
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 4, 2023 at 22:25
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    @Lecifer "kids being nurtured and developing perfect pitch while they are young": this could easily be similar to language acquisition, but it also could depend in part on something truly innate that is present only in some people. In other words, it's possible that not everyone is capable of developing it. Having the ability to identify tones doesn't imply an ability to name them, though, for example if you've never learned the names (I'm thinking of my acquaintance who claimed perfect pitch without musical training).
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 7:40
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    What if it's relative to a pitch that you only hear in your head? That's not actually a sound, and no observer can tell.
    – Kaz
    Commented Oct 7, 2023 at 3:58
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As someone with perfect pitch, I'd be happy to answer your question!

Are the frequencies C4 260hz and A4 440hz actually noticeably different to someone with “perfect pitch”.

Yes -- quite. I can hear those tones in my head and they're very distinct. Regarding microtones, I don't listen to microtonal music, but if it's a few hz difference I can definitely hear it. If you play 440hz and 445hz I'm going to hear it the difference pretty clearly. If you're playing 440hz and 442 hz or 441z, I will have a very difficult time hearing those differences and I'm willing to bet if you blind folded me and tested me in such a manner, at best, my success rate would be 50/50.

But, fundamentally, I can hear notes in my head without having to play them or have another note as reference.

That said, I can generally recognize when something is a quarter step off.

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    You don't need perfect pitch to recognize the difference between 445 and 440 Hz when played one after another. The question is if perfect pitch would allow to recognize them alone. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 20:02
  • szynalski.com/tone-generator 445 is quieter than 440. <old, sad face>
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 7, 2023 at 20:27
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    @user1079505, my apologies for not being clear, I didn't mean them being played one after the other, I meant individually. Like, if you just stopped me on the street and asked me what this note was and played it, if it was the A at 440 I'd tell you "A, sounds like it's in tune too" (or something to that effect). But if you stopped me and played the A at 445 hz, I'd still say it's an A but it's a little sharp. I wouldn't be able to specifically say "Oh, this is an A at 445hz instead of 440", but I'd know what an A sounds like in my head and know that's just a tad sharper. That's all I meant. Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 16:52
  • @Mazura, that's the tone generator I used! Not sure what you mean by 445 being quieter than 440 though. Commented Oct 9, 2023 at 16:53
  • I can't hear above ~14,000hz anymore; old. Only diff is it gets a little quieter. Or is that just something that happens if it's sharp/flat? Also, I'm using an LG TV.
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 10, 2023 at 1:31
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I don't have perfect pitch, but I do have good relative pitch, this is the ability to quite accurately name other pitches from a given reference note. Most musicians develop this ability over their years of playing, as such I would say it is a normal skill of experienced musicians.

I have friends with perfect pitch, and they can indeed recognise any pitch and name it accurately, one can even name notes in a chord given pretty much immediately. Anecdotally you can easily notice the difference between someone like me, for whom my relative pitch is developed enough to guess fairly accurately a given pitch from a reference tone in my head (ie a familiar song that I know is in F) and someone with perfect pitch. I will be fairly confident in a quiet room but still not always accurate, and this drops off to basically 'no chance' of guessing the pitch in a noisy environment. Someone with perfect pitch would generally (though ability differs) be able to just reel off the tones they hear in the same way as you could reel off the three colours in eg. a flag. It's a trivial task for them.

As for why and how many definitive divisions of an octave there are, that is a very open question. It's usual, in my anecdotal experience, that those with perfect pitch define an in-tune pitch roughly in agreement with what we would consider 'in tune' in this current era , ie a = 440Hz. As a result I know of people with perfect pitch who find a well tuned orchestra, centred around eg a = 433Hz, very annoying to listen to, as the whole thing sounds out of tune to them even if the orchestra are playing very harmoniously as a whole.

This does suggest some element of learning, though I've heard it's probably something that develops early on. You may want to look up Rick Beato, who played a lot of complex music to his child in their very early years, and the child has since developed perfect pitch. This may go some way to explaining why pitch recognition is centred around what we would consider 'in-tune'. I've seen some people say that it needs to develop relatively early on, say in the first 4 or 5 years, and it's much harder to gain something that looks like true perfect pitch later on. Now I don't mean to say that you just need to play a child complex music in their infancy and perfect pitch will arise, it's almost certainly due to neurological differences as well, so you may well need both to develop perfect pitch.

Getting even more hand-wavey there is a growing body of evidence that brains of neurodiverse people are structured differently to neurotypical people, and some of this structure can be explained in reference to the way the infant brain develops. During early development the brain is highly plastic, with an abundance of neurons, lots of 'pruning' of unnecessary neurons happens in the early years, potentially to temper and refine sensory input amongst many other things. It has been hypothesised that in some instances of neurodiversity the hyper sensitivity experienced by those individuals is due to this pruning not happening to the same level, and the brain remains hyper sensitised in some way. Potentially this could link to perfect pitch, and the need to have both a neurodiverse brain AND lots of the correct sort of stimulus early on. As most music is tuned a = 440Hz maybe this could explain why 'in tune' (by todays reference) music is the more commonly noticed version of 'correct' pitches by those with perfect pitch, and also why some of those with perfect pitch but WITHOUT the correct early stimulus may find ALL music a bit overwhelming (I have met someone like this).

All this is conjecture but an interesting topic. If you have access to an academic library there have been quite a few studies undertaken, though as ever there are too many interesting things in the world to study and a dearth in funding. It's unlikely to be something easily definable, just like neurodiversity in general is an exceptionally broad area where we are hoping to categorise an insanely complex system (the brain) into definitions that make some clear sense regarding its response to inputs.

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    Re: neurological differences -- my daughter's piano teacher welcomes developmentally disabled students, and she has a substantial number of autistic students. She has found a considerably higher incidence of absolute pitch among her autistic students than among others (this being something she tests for because of personal interest in the topic). Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 3:06
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    @JohnBollinger fascinating! There certainly seems to be some link there, lots of ASD people report hypersensitivity to all sorts of sensory inputs, sometimes to the point where it become debilitating. Though I should be clear I am using the term neurodiversity here to just mean some, potentially small, variation of brain function which could manifest as some curious ability, synesthesia, perfect pitch, ability to hyper focus etc. Though it all surely must come down to early brain structure development in some way!
    – OwenM
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 10:30
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I don't have perfect pitch but I play several instruments for many years.

My answer is actually a funny little story I noticed about myself :-)

Actually this happened several times. I just tuned my guitar without a tuner and I didn't tune it to the standard tuning on purpose. I just tuned it to some notes I liked (the first string - the rest of the strings were of course tuned according to the first string). As soon as I liked the tuning I pulled out a tuner and checked it. The lowest string was more or less perfectly tuned to a C. As I said I did this multiple times and I always tuned it to C.

Also what I tried several times: I focus for some time and then I sing a note. I pull out a tuner and again, I am singing a C.

So my answer is: You don't even need to have perfect pitch to be able to recognize notes. In my case, i just "have it as a feeling", probably because of my long experience with instruments

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IMO "perfect pitch" is a complete fallacy, since in most cases it only applies for A being around 440 Hz and 12-tone equal temperament. In the past, when I didn't know better, I thought it was some magical superpower, but I now hate this term.

So, a bit of a background of where I come from and what I know:

My parents got me into piano from very early on, and I played for most of my childhood all the way until the end of high school. I picked up this ability through the years. A lot of people, both at church and in my music classes, noticed this and said that I have "perfect pitch".

This worked out quite well for most of my life, until around September–October of 2022. During that time, I got back into classical music. Along the way, I learned about historical tunings (Pythagorean, meantone, and unequal well temperaments) and after exploring music in alternate tunings I had realised that the way I had been approaching music was completely wrong.

And now, to answer your questions:

Are the frequencies C4 260hz and A4 440hz actually noticeably different to someone with “perfect pitch”[?]

Yes, though the exact frequency of middle C depends on the tuning. If we're keeping pure octaves and 440 Hz for A, then 12-TET puts middle C at 261.626 Hz. In 19-TET middle C is 264.022 Hz, which is noticeably higher than that in 12-TET, and 31-TET would put middle C at 263.092 Hz. This is why specifying any sort of pitch range from note to note is actually extremely ambiguous—the frequency of any note varies significantly depending on the chosen tuning, reference frequency, stretching or compressing of octaves, and a whole host of other things, many of which I don't even know about right now.

What did they learn differently growing up to notice the difference in these tones?

I think it comes from them being constantly exposed them to the same frequencies over and over again.

There is a noticeably higher incidence of people with "perfect pitch" among communities that speak tonal languages like Chinese and Vietnamese from a young age. Since tonal languages use pitch changes to differentiate between syllables, people who speak tonal languages from a young age are already used to paying a lot of attention to pitch, and this helps when learning music.

I could understand learning to recognize tones in comparison to one another (intervals), as those have a clear difference in sound but I’m having trouble understanding how one can recognize them individually.

Because you don't have this ability. However, you will be better off than people with this "ability" (myself included) in many instances.

How can a tone be recognized as different without another tone to compare it to? We constantly see different colors and are always naturally comparing them with one another.

I think it's because people with "perfect pitch" have associated very specific frequencies with certain notes.

Same with colours—we differentiate them based on wavelength. Often times, with very small differences, it's hard to differentiate between notes unless you play intervals. For example, not many people can tell the difference between a perfect fifth from A to E in 12-TET and those in 19-TET if you just play the individual notes. But when you play them together, the difference becomes audible, since, for example, there is a bigger difference between the third harmonic of A and the second harmonic of E in 19-TET than in 12-TET. Things like differences in beating start to appear and it is through these things that we can tell a difference.

To me, if I tune my guitar to eadgbe there’s virtually no difference (except maybe bass, tenor, soprano, etc voice classifications), than if I tune my piccolo guitar to adgcea. Same concept as if a song is in the key of C Major vs the key of F major. What difference does it make which tones are used to tune an instrument/form a scale as long as the intervals are the same. What then, would be the purpose of “perfect pitch”?

To me, I've associated certain keys with certain "moods" or settings. If we're still assuming 12-TET, then to me E♭ major (assuming meantone tunings) sounds best at night in a downtown setting, G major sounds best in the morning, while B♭ major and C major are fairly universal between times of day and setting. That's why I save many copies of the songs I listen to—key signature is very important to me since there is a specific set of key signatures that sound best to me for any given setting.

But this way of associating key signatures with mood or whatever gets significantly more complicated when we venture beyond 12-TET. For example, in meantone (nowadays represented by 19, 31, 43, 50, and 55-TET) and Pythagorean (now 53-TET), B major and C♭ major are distinguished, F♯ major and G♭ major are distinguished, and C♯ major and D♭ major are also distinguished. It is the differences in where notes sit and the sizes of the various intervals that causes this.

For example, I think B♭ major sounds brighter in 31-TET than in 12-TET, while B major sounds darker and more mellow, since D, G, C, F, and all of the flats sit higher than they do in 12-TET, while E, B, and the sharp notes sit lower. In Pythagorean the opposite is true.

In alternative tunings, you also have key signatures that have double sharps and double flats, sometimes triple sharps and triple flats, that are redundant in 12-TET but are necessary. They will also sound radically different than their nearest neighbours in 12-TET, and I would have a hard time knowing what their "mood" or whatever would be like without actually listening to them.

Why is A4 considered between 432hz and 446hz? https://pages.mtu.edu/~suits/notefreqs.html

Before electronics existed, tuning frequencies varied widely. In the past, the reference pitch for A tended to be lower than where it is now, and even though it was sometimes higher than where it is now, it has generally risen over the years. 440 Hz as a convention was agreed upon in the late 1930's and made official in 1955.

It's important to note that A = 440 Hz is merely a convention and is not universal. Many Baroque orchestras, for example, tune to A = 415 Hz, since tuning frequencies in the Baroque era were mostly lower than they are now, and 415 Hz was chosen as a compromise where it's something that people can agree on and that more accurately reflects the performance practices of the era.

This is also why I still don’t exactly understand what microtones are either. How many distinct tones can we supposedly hear and rationalize as being different. As with color, there’s only red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and of course the shades (brown, pink, white, black etc) but there’s only about 12 that we can perceive as different.

Strictly speaking, microtones are intervals smaller than a semitone (chromatic or diatonic) or not present in standard tuning, such as subminor, neutral, and supermajor thirds.

I understand that how we calculate frequencies is logarithmic, as in, as we get to higher frequencies it takes more hz to reach the next tone. But how many recognizable tones are there for these perfect pitch folks, can they differentiate microtones too or are those just a part of our 12 tones, does anybody have any information on that?

This depends on ear training and music education.

From my experience, most people who are musically inclined could tell the difference between a near-just minor third in 19-TET and the rather flat minor third in 12-TET, or between a near-just major third of 31-TET and 12-TET's rather sharp major third, and even many untrained people could tell as well.

Though, minor thirds in 19-TET and 31-TET would likely sound too wide to most people, and major thirds too narrow, since they've never heard what justly-tuned minor and major thirds sound like in their lives.

Most people in the western world also aren't familiar with intervals past the 5-limit. For example, they don't know what the 7th, 11th, and 13th harmonics sound like, so intervals like 7/6 (the septimal subminor third), 8/7 (the septimal whole tone), and 9/7 (the septimal supermajor third) would likely sound very strange.

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  • Thanks for your information! The only difference I recognize in between keys with equal intervals is that they are lower or higher youtube.com/watch?v=Y-TzB8WewJA. A song in A minor ET is the same as a song in G minor ET correct? Does ET not prove that tones don’t have any characteristic without relation to other tones? I recently bought Music and the power of sound by Alain Danielou. Below I’ll post one of the excerpts from his book. Although, there are many more pieces within the book that argue against the perspective of “western musical theory”.
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 15:11
  • “In the musical systems in which the tonic is permanent and constantly present to the mind of the listener, each note has a significance determined by its relation to the tonic. The melody is thus composed of a succession of sounds with a perfectly definite meaning, and therefore its significance is absolutely clear. But if the tonic is not absolutely permanent, no note can have a significance unless the ratio that measures its expression is also given. This is why, in every musical system where modulation (or change of tonic) is admitted, it can be asserted that no note and
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 15:14
  • no melody can have a significance without the harmonic context, which alone establishes the ratios necessary to define the meaning of each note and consequently of the entire melody. The mode, being a series of sounds that have definite relations to a permanent tonic, can truly be said to represent the fixed harmonic basis of all melodic music, modulation being almost unknown in modal music, as the harmonic uncertainty it would create would last too long. The melodic figures, turning within a fixed circle and coming back frequently to certain notes, create a harmonic complex
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 15:16
  • that gives its significance to the melody. Gounod once wrote, "Sounds alone can no more constitute music than words alone can constitute a language. Words can only form a proposition, an intelligible sentence, when they are associated in a logical sequence according to the laws of intellect. This is also true of sounds, whose production, successive or simultaneous, must obey certain laws of attraction and mutual response before they can become a musical reality, a musical thought."
    – Lecifer
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 15:16

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