44 votes

Why do E♯ and F♮ not sound the same (according to Wikipedia)?

I think this particular phrasing is rather confusing, as it is trying to talk about two concepts at the same time: enharmonic equivalence, and intonation. The concept of intonation (and temperament, ...
Нет войне's user avatar
42 votes
Accepted

Why do E♯ and F♮ not sound the same (according to Wikipedia)?

The thing is that the "some tunings that define the notes in that way" in the Wikipedia quote include the most common tuning today, 12-tone equal temperament (12-TET). So, E# and F natural do usually ...
Dekkadeci's user avatar
  • 14.1k
22 votes
Accepted

Cello pressed at half length higher than harmonic?

This happens on all stringed instruments. There are two reasons for that. As you already noticed yourself, pressing down the string does require bending it a little, i.e. stretching, which increases ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

Bridge intonation patterns on stringed instruments

I'm actually planning to make a YouTube video about intonation to delve into this phenomenon. The short answer is that is depends upon the cross-sectional area of the tension-bearing part of the ...
Jemenake's user avatar
  • 346
17 votes
Accepted

Are these indentations on the frets of my Acoustic for intonation? Can I apply this to the frets of my Electric?

That's fret wear. The strings have slowly eroded away some of the fret material, leaving those dents. Over a long enough time, they become deep enough to cause problems. When the fret wear is bad ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
  • 56.7k
15 votes
Accepted

Why was Le Concert Spirituel playing out of tune at Proms 2012?

You are right, it is because they are using very old horns known as natural horns which had no valves or holes. They had known limitations and were quite difficult to play. You can see and hear a ...
BenoitLussier's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

"∞-TET": Is there music that doesn't use discretely pitched notes?

A trivial answer : yes. When I was quite young I wrote a computer program to spit out a succession of 'beeps' at random frequencies not related to any musical scale; I suspect many people who have a ...
Нет войне's user avatar
13 votes

Was equal temperament caused by the invention of the piano, or was it inevitable?

The earliest use of equal temperament was on fretted instruments with fixed frets. The ratio of 17:18 for the string length for successive frets is a good approximation to equal temperament. The ...
guest's user avatar
  • 211
12 votes
Accepted

Why is Stratocaster Low E-String Intonation at Limit?

Assuming your A and D strings are intonated correctly, the length of that E looks about right, maybe even a little too far back. As in the comments, check the neck relief and the action, and get ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 193k
11 votes

Theory confusion

I suggest reading this answer first (where I derive the stuff I talk about here with some extra graphics). Western music is derived from diatonic scales, like the one created by all the white keys on ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

How can I improve my violin intonation for enharmonic notes?

Intonation in classical music is one of the things where there isn't a single, catch-all rule that you can just apply to get it “right”. Really, it's part of an interpretation. Perhaps the only thing ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
11 votes

Problems with playing high notes (17-20th fret on e-string)

The top string is a little too low, so as you get to the dusty end, it's catching on the fretwire of fret 20. If that's the only problem, raising the saddle on the the string should be enough to get ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 193k
11 votes
Accepted

How does string age affect intonation?

I've been curious about this too. I imagine this is the same phenomenon that violinists refer to as a string "going false." The effect is the location of pitches becomes inconsistent along ...
Andy Bonner's user avatar
  • 17.2k
10 votes

Was equal temperament caused by the invention of the piano, or was it inevitable?

Even without the piano (or even keyboard instruments), there were other forces pushing toward something close to equal temperament. The common narrative is that chromatic music was instrumental in ...
Athanasius's user avatar
  • 12.6k
10 votes
Accepted

If the resolution of human hearing is approximately five cents, how can musicians play works with intonation changes of less than five cents?

With a bit of training, a good musician can hear differences of 2 cents, and with significant talent and/or a lot of practice, 1 cent. I base the above statement on my personal experience with ...
MMazzon's user avatar
  • 6,339
10 votes

How does string age affect intonation?

tl,dr: Finger gunk. It's the same reason why strings become dull over time. When playing. the oil, sweat and salt from your fingers interacts with the string and results in corrosion and accumulation. ...
Hilmar's user avatar
  • 1,810
9 votes

What are other intonations that exist in music?

There are a few other types of intonation: Ptolemaic sequence - a tuning for the diatonic scale proposed by Ptolemy It is produced through a tetrachord consisting of a greater tone (9:8), lesser ...
MetricSystemAdvocate's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

Is a cappella xenharmonic by default?

I admire a lot of Adam's work, but I think he's exaggerating a bit about the reasons why choirs get off pitch. (Though he's stating a commonly held belief -- or perhaps common excuse.) Yes, most ...
Athanasius's user avatar
  • 12.6k
9 votes

Do people with perfect pitch distinguish between equal temperament and just temperament?

My experience about this: even people without perfect pitch can distinguish between temperaments. As an example, when I play a pipe organ with unequal temperament, some chords sound very pure, without ...
Basj's user avatar
  • 471
9 votes

Are these indentations on the frets of my Acoustic for intonation? Can I apply this to the frets of my Electric?

Those fret indentations are wear caused by playing. No manufactures would put them in on purpose. My first move would be to consider that the neck is actually too close to the bridge. Maybe it could ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 193k
9 votes

Intonation problem at 20th fret (top 3 strings only) - Harley Benton SC-550

It sounds like you probably have one high fret, causing it to choke the string. Strictly speaking, you need a fret rocker to test for this, but any good, solid short straight edge can be pressed into ...
Tetsujin's user avatar
  • 27.8k
7 votes

Is there a sound theoretical reason why a capella choirs "drift off" of the starting pitches in a piece?

I would just add the (possibly obvious) answer that a capella choirs can also drift off because of singing out of tune. Typically, they tend to get flatter if the music has lots of jumps to high ...
Scott Wallace's user avatar
7 votes

Is there a sound theoretical reason why a capella choirs "drift off" of the starting pitches in a piece?

I would like to add the point that the comma pump may happen in either direction, resulting ascending or descending drift. However, tonal music is such that the intervals between the roots (the ...
hucbald's user avatar
  • 91
7 votes

Intonation problem: My 12th fret harmonic is on my 13th fret

Sounds like your 12th fret is too low, since you need to move up the fretboard to the 13th fret to get the note you should be getting on the 12th, so you need to move the bridge saddle towards the ...
Dedwards's user avatar
  • 656
7 votes

Bridge intonation patterns on stringed instruments

tl;dr: the saddle position depends on the action, the thickness of the string's core and its Young's modulus, because these factors govern how much the string tension goes up in fingered notes. My ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
6 votes

B -> C and E -> F, No Sharp?

The layout of a piano keyboard always puzzled me. For many years I asked music professionals why was it so illogical - no one seemed to know. Eventually, the best answer I found was that early ...
G57's user avatar
  • 61
6 votes

"∞-TET": Is there music that doesn't use discretely pitched notes?

"Harmonies" by Gyorgy Ligeti is an interesting example of microtonal music. It's written for organ, but it's intended to be played with reduced air and manipulation of the stops, so the pipes don't ...
Andy's user avatar
  • 2,165
6 votes

Theory confusion

Violins are fretless instruments, whereas guitars have frets. This means that the placement of the guitar fret determines the placement of this A♭/G♯. A violinist, however, can move their finger ever ...
Richard's user avatar
  • 84.5k
6 votes
Accepted

Fretted notes consistantly ~10cents sharp across the fretboard compared to open

If all the fretted notes are in tune (pretty much) with each other, the problem is most likely at the nut, not the bridge. Either the strings are too high in the nut or the distance from the nut to ...
Scott Wallace's user avatar
6 votes

How is intonation set on acoustic guitar

On an electric guitar you set the intonation by moving the bridge saddles closer to or further away from the nut. On an acoustic guitar you file a little bevel in the top of the bridge saddle so that ...
Areel Xocha's user avatar
  • 2,795

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible