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51

There are physical and psychoacoustics reasons behind it. A vibrating string held by its two extremities can only vibrate at certain frequencies (cycles per second, expressed in Hertz, i.e. 440 Hz = 440 cycles/second), which relates to the characteristics of the string (e.g. its weight per unit of length, its flexibility) and how it is used (e.g. the ...


42

Music, as an art, is in the ear of the listener. As a musician, I can say there are definitely times when a song sounds "better" in one key than another. The primary reason this is so is when the key fits the "natural" range of a singer or instrument. A song may sound perfect when sung by a female alto, but as those notes sung verbatim would be at the top ...


25

In modern Western music, we use equal temperament where all keys are basically equivalent. Notes are based on 2 n/12. Using A440 as a base, you get the following: A = 440 Hz * 2 0/12 = 440 Hz B♭ = 440 Hz * 2 1/12 = ~466 Hz B = 440 Hz * 2 2/12 = ~494 Hz etc. Historically this was not the case, however. Just intonation ruled the world, where notes are ...


24

Yes, but also due to the changes in piano construction. In some ways, a classical piece played on a modern piano might sound more true to the composer's original intent than the piano it was originally played on. Modern pianos are generally louder and brighter than the ones in the late 1700s and early 1800s. So loud passages, such as might be found in some ...


23

In principle, the answer is yes, with software instruments it is feasible to (re-)set the tuning so that you can realize music with modulation that stays in just intonation across these changes. The frequencies are directly accessible in sound synthesis environments like PureData or Overtone, and even just by setting the tuning information in a set of MIDI ...


23

This question seems to arise from a “linear” mental model of notes. C♭ C C♯ D♭ D D♯ E♭ E E♯ F♭ F F♯ G♭ G G♯ A♭ A A♯ B♭ B B♯ C♭ C C♯ Like a piano keyboard, but somehow with 31 notes per octave instead of 12. (Building or playing such an instrument is left as an exercise for the reader.) But instead, look at the notes in Circle of Fifths ...


22

It is often a matter of tradition inside the orchestra that becomes out of control for conductors. When they create their own orchestra they have the pleasure to decide this for themselves. The conservatism from musicians has several reasons: Some Orchestra have a concert hall with a large organ which is tuned for this frequency Wind players usually ...


16

Here are links to YouTube videos, all three of which were posted by the same person, using the same synthesizer, all three playing Bach's Air on the G String. But each link uses a different tuning system: Equal Temperament: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6XkgNT20Eg Just Intonation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdL8aPQUOk0 Pythagorean Tuning: http://www....


16

You are exactly correct that it is the logarithmic nature of pitch that causes this effect. In cases like this, I find that a picture is helpful. Here I've labeled equally spaced octaves (1200 cents) along the x-axis (representing pitch). I've then labeled the corresponding frequencies on the y-axis as multiples of some arbitrary base frequency f. Note that ...


16

You cannot even realize "just temperament" reliably when you are working with continuous-tone instruments like singers and trombones. Take a look at even something as old as J.S. Bach's mass in B minor, like the "Confiteor" which goes off-tonality somewhere after 2:30 (in this recording) and loses tonal center rather thoroughly between 3:00 and 4:00. The ...


15

As a brassplayer, 442 on up seriously sucks. We are placed in the position of playing where the instrument doesn't resonate in the same way. Even 4 cents difference will render the slides too long even if the open instrument can be accomodated to a higher tuning frequency. Fie on brighter tuning!


15

Yes, if not far more than 7 when you consider pitches outside of the diatonic scale and variations on A440! By "stray slightly to make a note sound more in tune," you're talking about just intonation. In 12-tone equal temperament, in C major, let's say C is our "zero-point." For the ensuing discussion, all pitches are based off of this 12TET where C is "0 ...


15

It is because B and C are closer together than the difference between B and B♯ and the difference between C and C♭. That is, they are all some sort of semitone apart. but this doesn't appear anywhere else in the chromatic series Actually, F♭ is also lower than E♯. By contrast, when the natural notes are a (some sort of) whole step apart, as with C and ...


13

Note: For the sake of discussion, I'm limiting myself here to equal temperaments, which is the most common way of tuning keyboards. Other systems exist, of course, but would probably only confuse the matter. Why do B and C and E and F not have a sharp note between them? Simply because, acoustically speaking, there is no room in our current system for ...


12

It's a bit more complicated than may appear at first glance. Within a single key, if Just Intonation makes the I,IV, and V chords all (4,5,6) ratios, the ii chord will be off. The other question is what note to play as a melody note. Often, melodies are somewhat independent of the underlying chords (at least in CPP if not in Jazz and other Pop theories). I ...


11

Orchestras tune higher if they can get away with it because higher pitches sound more brilliant. This has led to inflation of standard pitch over time. There are, however, practical limits to how much inflation is possible, since audiences will cry foul if the result is closer to the next semitone up. Also, some instruments, such as pianos, can be damaged ...


11

There is exactly one note that is a diminished 3rd above Db: Fb. Db to Eb is not a diminished third, it is a major second. Those comments are wrong. This question explains the difference between two enharmonically equivalent notes.


11

Standard tuning for solo violin in classical music is just intonation. Tune the A string and, from there, tune the other strings with just-intonated perfect fifths. Some times, as a compromise you may need to tune the violin temperate, for example when you need to play many open strings in duo/ensemble with a instrument not capable of just-intonation. ...


11

We first need to categorize each interval, assign it a "consonance amount". That's the first problem we find. In the case of the fourth, for example, some consider it perfect consonance, and others consider it a dissonance, depending context (and who you ask). For simplicity, let's define ours based on Wikipedia's: 1: Perfect consonances: unison, octave, ...


11

A pithy way of saying it is that intonation is the process by which a temperament is achieved. Intonation is what is done in order that the sound is produced at the desired/intended pitch. This can be done as part of instrument setup, e.g. "setting the guitar intonation", or as an integral part of performing the music, e.g. as in expressive intonation. ...


11

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 computer and a bit of an interest in music have done the same. In practice how close you could get to infinity (!) would be limited by the resolution at which ...


10

Logic Pro has built-in controls for using different temperaments. Check out the link below: http://documentation.apple.com/en/logicpro/usermanual/index.html#chapter=43%26section=6%26tasks=true It allows you to either select a pre-configured tuning system, or customize your own. MAX/MSP is another solution, but if you don't have programming experience, ...


10

As per the app you were asking, Pythagorean is the temperament you're looking for. The perfect fifth is the 2:3 frequency ratio (and small rational number frequency ratios are required for the sympathetic vibrations to work). So if your A string is 440Hz, the tuning is as follows: E - 660 Hz A - 440 Hz D - 293.33 Hz G - 195.56 Hz C - 130.37 Hz If you tune ...


10

My answer is no, it isn't really possible to use a fingering technique to play an A440 recorder at A415. No professional would even try; they would instead, as Wheat noted, have a real A415 instrument or, if extremely confident and well rehearsed, transpose on-the-fly down a half-step. One can indeed bend most notes up or down quite a bit using half-holes, ...


10

"just intonation better than equal temperament" Judgement call there. When instruments are slightly off perfect ratios, there can be very appealing beating and chorus effects. Piano strings are intentionally mistuned from each other by slight amounts. Nothing but perfect ratios can sometimes lead to a very thin sound. Depends on context. "instruments which ...


9

Microtonal is tricky on MIDI because it separates the space between half-tones into 128 equal notes. I'm surprised any normal MIDI player won't integrate pitch bend as a microtonal parameter - is that how you are doing it? I've been trying to work on a continuous pitch controller in MIDI. the issue is that depending on the MIDI player, the 0-128 can send ...


9

It's almost always a non-issue. Keep in mind that keyboards and pitched percussion are really the extent of the fixed-frequency instruments. All wind instruments use the breath, embouchure, and occasionally tuning slide adjustments or alternate fingerings to adjust tuning on the small scale. Even guitarists have some options for tuning adjustment, but ...


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