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67 votes
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A (440 Hz) and A (880 Hz) are completely different sounds to me. Does this mean I'm tone deaf?

Note: For the physics and neurophysiology covered in this answer I am going to be oversimplifying for brevity. They are not the "same" but they have the same pitch class. Notes that sound similar are ...
syntonicC's user avatar
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52 votes

Why are C♯ and D♭ different frequencies?

The linked answer is a bit of a mess, and it's a common mess for people to make. When we talk about the exact frequencies of each pitch class, we have to know the temperament, and a reference pitch. ...
MattPutnam's user avatar
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30 votes

Why are C♯ and D♭ different frequencies?

The short answer is that for 12-tone equal temperament (12TET), the de facto tuning system for western music, Db and C# are exactly the same sounding note. Exactly what frequency that note sounds like ...
teletypist's user avatar
30 votes
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Why do two identical notes never cancel each other out?

If you play two sine waves of constant amplitude at the same frequency, then the result will be another sine wave. If your two sine waves are in phase, then you have a louder sinewave. if your two ...
Нет войне's user avatar
26 votes
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Trumpet Peculiar Frequency spectrum

Excellent find! Trumpet, as well as the acoustically similar trombone, are very peculiar instruments when it comes to physics. They are cylindrical tubes closed at one end, so they should have a ...
MattPutnam's user avatar
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26 votes
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What is an All-Pass Filter? What are its uses?

Are there any All-Pass filter plugins(AU, VST, AAX)? The standard EQ plugin of Reaper (ReaEQ, you can also get this as a separate VST plugin) has different modes for the filters (a parametric EQ is ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
26 votes

Is there a mathematical formula or a list of frequencies (Hz) of notes?

In the 12-TET (12 Tone Equal Temperament) tuning system, we want the ratio of pitches in an octave to be 2:1, and we also want 12 (exponentially) equally spaced semitones per octave. So, the ...
Elements In Space's user avatar
25 votes

A (440 Hz) and A (880 Hz) are completely different sounds to me. Does this mean I'm tone deaf?

They're not the same sound, and depending on how specific you're being, they're not the same note (though they're both 'A', 440Hz is A4, 880 is A5). In most contexts, they'll be the same degree of ...
Нет войне's user avatar
25 votes

Why is the relationship between frequency and pitch exponential?

It's because the way the ear actually hears pitch differences (for most people) is based on frequency ratios, rather than absolute frequency differences. If I played you "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"...
Нет войне's user avatar
25 votes
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What is the reason a given note can have different "sounds"

Simple answer - overtones or harmonics. Each sound producing machine (instrument) has the propensity to produce not only the fundamental (first harmonic), but others too. The mix of whichever these ...
Tim's user avatar
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23 votes
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Why is a 440 Hz frequency considered the "standard" pitch for musical instruments?

440 Hz is the standard that has been adopted. Before it was, an instrument tuned in one country or even city was out of tune in another; confusion reigned. The short version of it is that ...
BenoitLussier's user avatar
23 votes

Is it mathematically possible to create an equal temperament which matches just interval ratios?

The other answers approach this from dividing the octave and showing that equal divisions must be irrational. Another way of looking at this is to consider whether we can compose an octave by ...
phoog's user avatar
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21 votes

What is the reason a given note can have different "sounds"

There's more to an instrument's waveform than the over-riding 'perceived pitch' frequency. There's lots of other frequencies mixed in there. And apart from the sustain portion of a musical note (...
Laurence's user avatar
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20 votes
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What is the "Jazz Bass Mid Scoop"?

The "Jazz Bass Mid Scoop" is absolutely real! When the Jazz bass is played with both pickups at the same volume, the sound will be mid-scooped. The term "mid-scooped" means that ...
Edward's user avatar
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20 votes

Why don't two Boomwhackers with a one-octave pitch difference have a 2:1 length ratio?

Elementary acoustical theory is based on the 'ideal string' with zero mass and no stiffness and the 'ideal tube' with zero diameter. Real strings and tubes behave slightly differently. The discrepancy ...
Laurence's user avatar
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19 votes
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How do I use an equalizer?

There is no one way to use an EQ, but there are a few common techniques that people use to EQ, and they can be applied on most sources. First a few general tips: Make small changes. EQs are not ...
modenv's user avatar
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19 votes
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Does the lip really vibrate at the same frequency of a brass instrument?

At least for trumpet, yes, the lips really vibrate that quickly. For a high trumpet note, the lips may vibrate at more than 1000 vibrations per second. This is fast, but remember that the muscles are ...
Aaron's user avatar
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16 votes

A (440 Hz) and A (880 Hz) are completely different sounds to me. Does this mean I'm tone deaf?

They are both the same note, if note means letter name. They're both A, but 880 is an octave higher than 440. The 440 A has harmonics on most instruments, one of which being the second harmonic ...
Tim's user avatar
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16 votes
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Confusion about overtones and a slow-motion video of a plucked string

At a basic level, the waveshape in the image you posted is a graph of sound pressure over time, while the actual string in the video is a graph of string displacement over its length. The two are ...
Edward's user avatar
  • 8,542
15 votes
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Do musical instruments pitched at different frequencies play different notes when compared to each other?

I don't understand what you mean by 'pitched at'. Most instruments will use A=440Hz as a reference point, and that's how each and every orchestral instrument gets to be in tune with the rest. A flute ...
Tim's user avatar
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15 votes

Is it mathematically possible to create an equal temperament which matches just interval ratios?

As I understand the question, this is pure mathematics: No it is impossible. No matter, how many divisions you have, say n, the step width will always be nth root of two and therefore an irrational ...
guidot's user avatar
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15 votes

Difference between drum sounds and melody sounds

For the purposes of this question, lets consider three broad categories of musical sounds: Unpitched sounds - examples include cymbals, bullroarer Semi-pitched sounds - examples include tom-tom drums,...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
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15 votes

Confusion about overtones and a slow-motion video of a plucked string

The Fourier transform allows us to decompose the shape of the string into a collection of sinusoids which correspond to the fundamental frequency and the (mostly) audible harmonics that give the note ...
cuppajoeman's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Why is the perfect fifth the nicest interval?

Too long for a comment. The existing answer does a good job of explaining that it's because of equal temperament, but as to why we use equal temperament, an equal temperament fifth is 1.4983... which ...
Some_Guy's user avatar
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14 votes
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Dissonance: why doesn't the roughness curve have a dip for complex intervals like 7/6?

If you mean this curve: probably because it was only calculated using the first 6 harmonics. Plomp & Levelt 1965: In this way, the curves ... were computed for complex tones consisting of 6 ...
endolith's user avatar
  • 1,461
14 votes

Do musical instruments pitched at different frequencies play different notes when compared to each other?

I think that your attempt at "understanding how the pitch affects the note" needs an answer with a deeper root than has been given. This is slightly mathematical, but rather necessary. First, let's ...
user1803551's user avatar
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14 votes

Why is the relationship between frequency and pitch exponential?

Essentially, it's because we humans perceive pitch on a logarithmic/exponential scale. We hear an octave when the frequency is doubled or halved, not when it has a certain amount added or subtracted ...
user45266's user avatar
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14 votes
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How to calculate the extra semitone in one circle of fifths

The problem is that intervals are ratios, so using subtraction to calculate the "extra" interval (frequency) is the wrong operation. The "extra" interval is ~ 1.014. (3/2)12 / 27 = ...
Aaron's user avatar
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