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80 votes

Can wind instruments be played out of tune?

Yes, all wind instruments can be played out of tune. Very out of tune. Source: I work with junior concert bands. To elaborate, the frequency produced by a given wind instrument is a function of the ...
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  • 9,509
64 votes

Why is my D string showing a C♯ on my tuner?

The tuner does not hear what pitch your string is supposed to be at but only what pitch it actually is. If your string is more than a quartertone flat, it is closer to a C♯ than to a D. So your ...
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  • 471
57 votes

Why do pianos not need to be tuned every time you play?

Piano strings are attached to a cast iron frame, also known as harp. Cast iron is much less sensitive to humidity and temperature changes than wood. This is the main reason why they stay in tune ...
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  • 1,781
54 votes

Does tuning music to A = 432 Hz versus A = 440 Hz have a measurable effect on listeners?

Yes. When you tune music up or down people hear it differently. Everyone agrees on that. Pitch it down and it will sound warmer, pitch it up and it will sound brighter. This happens all the time when ...
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50 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. ...
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50 votes
Accepted

Can wind instruments be played out of tune?

Yes, wind instruments can play out of tune, even when the instrument is "tuned properly" (which isn't as well-defined as it seems). In fact, the same can be said for fretted string instruments as well....
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43 votes
Accepted

Why do people with perfect pitch perceive tunes not in 440 Hz out of tune?

As someone with absolute pitch and trained in A440 12-tone equal temperament (i.e. the usual) with plenty of vocal music as a backup, I perceive notes that are several cents out of tune as "off" ...
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38 votes
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If equal temperament divides an octave into 12 equal parts, why are the hertz differences not the same but 12ths of two?

The intervals between notes are "equal" not in the sense that the difference in Hz between them is the same, but the ratio a between them is the same. Let's say g is one semitone higher than f, then g ...
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37 votes

Why can't notes be tuned according to a defined frequency?

We can tune each string/pipe to a given frequency as accurately as we need to for musical purposes. We can't do it so that they collectively satisfy several musically desirable properties, because ...
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  • 6,903
35 votes

Why Is Just Intonation Impractical?

I want to make an addition to all these excellent answers. With just intonation, it's not possible to make all the chords just. Not even in a single key. Let's look at the common just major scale ...
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  • 5,079
32 votes

Why is the double bass the only instrument in the violin family tuned in fourths?

With long open strings, the span to reach notes especially at the nut end would be too much for a lot of players if it retained the 5ths pattern of tuning. Making the tuning in fourths means that the ...
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  • 176k
31 votes

Is it better to choose 440 Hz or 432 Hz to tune an acoustic piano?

It might extend string life, and it might make the piano sound rather dull since the strings may be designed for the tension at which A is 440 Hz or even higher. Whether it's better is a matter of ...
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30 votes
Accepted

Why does my new guitar become untuned every day?

If it's a brand new guitar, it's likely that the strings on it are new as well. New guitar strings have a certain amount of stretchiness that can cause them to become flat (e.g. go down in tuned ...
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30 votes

Does octave not matter when tuning?

Why does it not matter what octave you're tuning to? If you want to set a string to a certain pitch, of course it does matter what octave you adjust the string to. Setting a string to A3 (220Hz) is ...
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29 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 ...
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28 votes

If equal temperament divides an octave into 12 equal parts, why are the hertz differences not the same but 12ths of two?

The division of notes has to do with human perception and psychoacoustics. One description of human perception is the Weber-Fechner law, where a human will perceive equal changes in some sensory ...
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26 votes
Accepted

Why did equal temperament become the standard tuning system for keyboard instruments?

Partly to allow the same, diatonic, piece to be played at different pitches as @Tim suggests. But also, I think, because music started getting more tonally adventurous within the SAME piece. When ...
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26 votes

Are there pieces that require retuning an instrument mid-performance?

Lots of classical music require retuning of timpani (or purchasing a larger drum set). Von Biber's Rosary Sonatas require retuning a violin between each section.
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25 votes

What’s that U shaped metal thing needed for tuning called?

It's a tuning fork: (image taken from the Thomann website)
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  • 3,472
24 votes
Accepted

Why is A4 the standard pitch reference for tuning?

Had to do some digging for this one. First off, some informed speculation: A, of course, is the first letter in the alphabet, so its as good a place as any to define a standard. Plus, as you say, it ...
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  • 20.3k
24 votes
Accepted

What do the terms E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4 actually mean?

The letters (E,A,D etc) refer to the note. The standard tuning for the guitar is E,A,D,G,B,E (Last E is two octaves higher than the lowest one). Now, the numbers after each letter refer to the ...
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24 votes
Accepted

Do classical pieces sound different today than the originals due to temperament?

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 ...
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  • 51.6k
23 votes

Are there pieces that require retuning an instrument mid-performance?

In "The Rite of Spring" Stravinsky requires the celli to detune their A-strings to G-sharp for the final chord of the piece (and asks them to play a four-note chord "non arpeggiato"...
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  • 15.5k
22 votes

Violin Tuning- shouldn't the the A-string be tuned to A5? Why A4?

If the comment and existing answer still don't make it clear, maybe a picture: As user25119 wrote, the octave numbers change when you go from B to C. So that means the D and the A highlighted below ...
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  • 51.6k
22 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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21 votes

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an all-fourths guitar tuning?

I've tried all-fourths tuning quite a bit. To me, it definitely makes purely monophonic playing a lot more instinctive (even having got used to standard tuning) - any little one-octave scale shape you ...
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