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What makes an E an E?


Darcy H

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Please forgive me in advance, a few years of Engineering many, many moons ago and this is the way my brain now works.....

 

Can anyone tell me why an E is an E? For example, a open sixth string E, and the next two E's two octaves up, what do they have in common? Is it some sort of mathmatical relationship between the frequencies that makes them work? This is probally some very basic theory or fluid dynamics I somehow missed...headed to the pub and ditched the lecture......

 

Thanks.

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Each succesive octave up is double the frequency of the fundamental.

 

i.e. the A below middle C is 440 Hz. The A above middle C is 880 Hz.

 

This is absolutely true in equal temperment. Pianos are tuned to a stretched tuning that allows them to sound in tune in all keys.

 

There are different theories on tuning pianos. Bach wrote "The Well Tempered Clavier" to prove that equal temperment was useful, and to force piano students to play in all 12 keys.

 

Other tuning systems are used when a piano will be used to play a piece that is in one specific key. The Piano can be tweaked to sound sweet in one key, but play the piece up a tone and things star to get sour in a hurry. This happens more often in the classical piano concerto repeertoire. Many pianists at than level with have a piano tuner with them that they trust to get the piano sounding the way they like it.

 

Botton line is that you can't tune a piano with a $20 Korg guitar tuner.

 

Paul

Peace,

 

Paul

 

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A below middle C, it should be mentioned, is the most common, modern, standard reference tone for determining all other notes, however in different centuries, A has been referenced to many frequencies between 438Hz and 452Hz. Many orchestra that specialize in playing music from a particular era will tune to the most common reference of that time.

 

From there, theoretically, mathmatical models can provide any frequency for any note in any octave. In reality, tempering shifts the actual frequency depending on variables related to the sound engine. Strings' frequencies for a particular note vary a bit with mass and tension of the string when tempered tuning is employed.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

Soundclick

fntstcsnd

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Originally posted by Hfx_Buzz:

Please forgive me in advance, a few years of Engineering many, many moons ago and this is the way my brain now works.....

 

Can anyone tell me why an E is an E? For example, a open sixth string E, and the next two E's two octaves up, what do they have in common? Is it some sort of mathmatical relationship between the frequencies that makes them work? This is probally some very basic theory or fluid dynamics I somehow missed...headed to the pub and ditched the lecture......

 

Thanks.

Well if it was Fluid Dynamics you for sure didnt miss this theory..it would have been in Applied Quantum Mechanics.
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Originally posted by fantasticsound:

A below middle C, it should be mentioned, is the most common, modern, standard reference tone for determining all other notes, however in different centuries, A has been referenced to many frequencies between 438Hz and 452Hz.

Hold on... how do we know what "A" was referenced to back then? We weren't there. Do we know that from museum instruments?

 

How DID people tune up back before our modern technology? Even if they had tuning forks or some sort of tuning device, how did they know it was correct? String instruments can be tuned quite arbitrarily but brass and woodwinds can't. How did a horn maker know that his horns were in perfect pitch? Is it just a matter of measurements?

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Originally posted by Vince C.:

Originally posted by fantasticsound:

A below middle C, it should be mentioned, is the most common, modern, standard reference tone for determining all other notes, however in different centuries, A has been referenced to many frequencies between 438Hz and 452Hz.

Hold on... how do we know what "A" was referenced to back then? We weren't there. Do we know that from museum instruments?

 

How DID people tune up back before our modern technology? Even if they had tuning forks or some sort of tuning device, how did they know it was correct? String instruments can be tuned quite arbitrarily but brass and woodwinds can't. How did a horn maker know that his horns were in perfect pitch? Is it just a matter of measurements?

Hey, this is a great question. Someone must have had a way of calibrating tuning, otherwise concerts would have been a disaster. Anyone happen to know the answer?
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This waa always the responsibility of the first chair violinist with concurance from the conductor... the only standard that had to be followed was how the reference note was heard by the first chair voilin,the rest of the sections would tune off their section leaders who had tuned to the first chair violinist. When the orchestra warmed up the conductor would make final assessments for tuning the orchestra as a whole.
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I'll have to do some research for more specific answers, but I do believe that, in particular, Pythagoras and his followers (ancient Greece) really had their act together when it came to advanced pitch, frequency, and mathematical concepts concerning sound and music. Much is owed.

 

I think it's interesting to note (nope, no pun intended, but I'm leaving it) that Pythagoreans did much of their r&d with plucked strings...

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

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Check out this website for more information, but it doesn't tell how early scientists determined frequency.

 

It has a long list of standards that were used at different times by a whole host of orchestras.

 

from the link above;

 

1711 John Shore's tuning fork, a pitch of A423.5 He invented the tuning fork, one of which still exists today.
What I still don't understand is how there were standards listed before the advent of the tuning fork. :confused:

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

Soundclick

fntstcsnd

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