I keep reading how two notes an octave apart sound like the same notes. I understand that theres a doubling of the frequency, so theres no real beats. But one sounds like a significantly higher tone, that's all. I can't transcribe something and substitute a C5 for C4 and think, ok that's the right note, just an octave off. Is there something I'm not listening for ?

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    Are you saying that an octave doesn't sound the same? If yes, you may be out of tune, or I just may be reading the question wrong. Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 0:17
  • when you harmonize songs (ie play chords), then you'll notice that you can substitute any note for its octave and it'll sound just as good. that's what inversions basically do.
    – user34288
    Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 1:25
  • Is your question really about transcription and trying to get the right octave by ear? If you are transcribing a melody that started on C5, but you started on C4 and got all the relative intervals of the melody correct, I would say the mistaken octave is a minor issue. On the other hand, if the melody moved by major third and you transcribed a major 10th that would be an important mistake involving the octave. Commented Sep 17, 2018 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


They're 'the same but different'. The same pitch class but different pitches. Maybe not too easy to explain the 'sameness' in words, but I hope you can HEAR it, and you're just complaining about not quite understanding a description!

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