Why does e.g a C Major Chord sound different from a F Major Chord ? Is it only the absolute Height of the Root ?

  • different frequencies – Shevliaskovic May 15 '16 at 14:59
  • Intervalls are the same - why is the sound different anyway ? – flworius May 15 '16 at 15:00
  • 1
    They sound the same (assuming you use same voicing or fingering or same inversion) - only one is higher than the other and we are able to perceive the different sound wave frequency. If you play one chord using first inversion and the other using 2nd inversion, there will be a slight difference in perceived sound. If played on guitar, chord voicings often emphasise extra notes either on the treble or bass side depending on chord voicing chosen and where you place the extra notes (bass or treble side of base triad) could make a difference in perception of the overall tone/character of chord. – Rockin Cowboy May 15 '16 at 15:28
  • Rockin has a good point. What particular istrument is producing your chords? And are you talking basic triads? – Tim May 15 '16 at 17:20
  • This kind of question never gets old. I used to think all chords of the same type sound the same, but if you play an F major right after a C major they sound really different from each other. So I guess it all depends on the context. :) – Menglan May 18 '16 at 19:50

The intervals might be the same, but they start off from a different frequency. You can see here the different frequencies for the notes.

For instance, the C major that starts from C1 will have these frequencies:

  • C1: 32.70
  • E1: 41.20
  • G1: 49.00

And similarly, for the first three tones of F major from F1:

  • F1: 43.65
  • A1: 55.00
  • C2: 65.41

You see that will the intervals might be the same (major 3rd and then minor 3rd), when you start from a note that is lower or higher, the frequencies will not be the same and thus they will not sound the same

  • A more interesting question might be "Why do they sound so similar?" Each consists of the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of a major scale. They're just based on different pitches. Perhaps you're really asking "Why, IN THE KEY OF C, does C major feel like home, F major feels like a trip away from home?" Or are you hearing some other difference in quality between the two chords? Are you a guitarist? Are you talking about the different voicings of C and F chords when using the easiest available chord shape on guitar? – Laurence Payne May 15 '16 at 16:47
  • This is not valid evidence, for C2: 65.41 Hz, E2: 82.41 Hz, G2: 98.00 Hz. So are you saying C2-E2-G2 is even more different from C1-E1-G1 than F1-A1-C2? – Menglan May 18 '16 at 19:45

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