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Pitch Perception Skewed By Modern Tuning

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the pretty-good-pitch dept.

Music 253

The feed deliverers us news of research suggesting that the use of A as the universal tuning frequency has made our ears less discerning of the notes immediately around it. Here's the abstract from PNAS describing research with people possessing the rare quality of "absolute pitch."

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Blame. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20460769)

Some orchestra went with 435Hz instead of 440Hz? The cads!

A435 is old standard (5, Interesting)

GomezAdams (679726) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460949)

About 1939 A440 was adapted instead of the "French" A435 standard. In recent history some orchestras went to A445 but they are the exception. Modern piano scales are designed for A440. The length, diameter, and tension of the strings are all taken into the scale calculations. To raise pitch on a piano 5 CPS(Hz) is quite an undertaking and can add several hundreds of pounds of tension to the back (wooden part) and plate (big harp looking thingee made of cast iron and usually painted brass color) of a piano, A standard piano can have 11 tons, or more for grands, up to 20 tons of combined tension on the frame. The whole of the piano is designed to handle a certain amount of tension and can be stressed if too much tension is added. Same as letting a piano fall way below in pitch (pitch = tension) and bringing it up to pitch in one sitting. It must be done carefully & quickly to be effective. It isn't pretty to see a piano with the plate bolts sheared off and the plate bowing out from the rim. I'm a former piano technicain with 25+ years of piano tuning and rebuilding behind me so I've yanked strings on more than a few pianos, raising pitch and doing battle with aged instrments not kept in repair. Also have done complete restringing and rebuilding of all sorts of pianos.

PS (1)

GomezAdams (679726) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461001)

I have no idea if the concept of a standard desenses us to nearby frequencies as put forth in the article. I use aural tuning techniques and count beats and match tones to tune. I'm a non-believer in "perfect pitch" as claimed but have known several individduals with very good pitch perception or having "absolute pitch". Frank Sinatra was rumoured to be able to sing any note dead on pitch upon request without a reference note.

Re:A435 is old standard (-1, Troll)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461107)

A standard piano can have 11 tons, or more for grands, up to 20 tons of combined tension on the frame.

I'm surprised it's as low as that. A guitar has several tons of tension on its neck. I suppose piano strings, particularly the lower ones, are quite slack.

Re:A435 is old standard (3, Interesting)

alyosha1 (581809) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461161)

A guitar has several tons of tension on its neck
No it doesn't. Each string has a few kilograms of tension, depending of course on string thickness and mass per unit length. Total tension can typically be in the range of around 50 kg.

Re:A435 is old standard (1)

alyosha1 (581809) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461191)

Sorry, that should presumably 500N, i.e. equivalent to 50 kg hanging from the strings under normal gravity.

Re:A435 is old standard (4, Informative)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461215)

Piano strings are certainly not very slack, and a guitar cannot EVER have several tons of tension on its neck (or at the bridge, or anywhere). Assuming the guitar was made of cast iron instead of wood (which is typically solid, and steel-bar-reinforced at best) and did not instantly collapse from the tension, you wouldn't even be able to pluck the strings. Assuming you were Superman and could actually pluck a string, the pitch would be hypersonic and inaudible to all (except your Super-hearing I suppose).

Classical guitars have an average of about 25 pounds of tension per string. Of course it's slightly more for steel-stringed abominations (hence the neck reinforcement).

Re:A435 is old standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20462463)

I'm surprised it's as low as that. A guitar has several tons of tension on its neck.

And yet the average joe can bend a guitar string with the pinky on his left hand. You might want to rethink your position.

Re:A435 is old standard (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20461457)

The "French" A435 tuning came into being in 1859 before that there was no standard and the pitch varied roughly from A380 to A480.

Cursed PDF Format (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20460783)

I just want article text. HTML can do that. I refuse to read .PDF files.

Re:Cursed PDF Format (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461071)

Here's the article in the less evil HTML format. [samurajdata.se] (Or here if that link doesn't work.)

Re:Cursed PDF Format (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461253)

http://view.samurajdata.se/ [samurajdata.se] I suppose I should use the preview button more often.

Re:Cursed PDF Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20461991)

Nitpicker...
Just be glad it ain't a .doc format, or .rtf, or whatever.
pdf might be annoying in its loading time, but it's quite convenient to preserve an article's layout in different environments.

Some people just need to whine about everything.
Atleast PDF doesn't contain bloody huge advertisements which float over your page blocking your view to the text, and that suck up your entire display real-estate...

Frist Psot? (2, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460785)

It's interesting that pitches can be amalgamated by experience. Which is a basic part of human nature - the mind adapts to fit circumstances, and if the key of A is what we tune in to, why wouldn't our minds adapt to fit this reality?

It's all how it works. The article is weak on details, but this post is probably bigger. If every time you heard a sound like a jet engine, you got smacked upside the back of your head, wouldn't you get jumpy when you heard anything that sounded like a jet engine, even if it wasn't *exactly* the same?

Sometimes it's funny how Science has to prove the stuff that "Everybody Knows". (TM)

Re:Frist Psot? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20460947)

Everybody _knows_ the world is flat... :)

Re:Frist Psot? (4, Insightful)

Incoherent07 (695470) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460989)

Adding to the shrug factor, the twelve-tone pitch system as a whole is a human invention. This makes perfect pitch that much stranger, because it means people have an innate ability to attune themselves to an artificial note naming scheme.

So since that scheme can vary somewhat, it would make sense that depending on "which" A your perfect pitch is tuned to, you may have trouble distinguishing G# or A# in a different tuning.

Re:Frist Psot? (4, Interesting)

hazem (472289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461233)

This makes perfect pitch that much stranger, because it means people have an innate ability to attune themselves to an artificial note naming scheme.

I don't believe perfect/absolute pitch is being born with the ability to simply hear a note and know that it's C#. Rather, you have to be trained at least once that a certain sound is Bb, but later, any time you hear it, you know it's Bb. And I doubt that they'd be limited to a 12-tone pitch system unless that was all you ever exposed them to.

I think the same thing can happen with color. Some people (tetrachromats, I think) have a very sensitive ability to discern and remember colors, such that they could see paint swab at the store and know if it matches the paint on the wall at home.

I know I don't have perfect pitch myself, but I play piano. Now suppose I sit down at the piano at the beginning of the day, having not listened to any music, I can almost always tell what the note I'm about to hit first will sound like. In fact, sometimes I'll play a game and try to hum the sound before playing the first note. Sometimes, though, I'm off by up to a whole step. Someone with perfect pitch would probably never make that mistake.

Is it not more the case of losing perfect pitch? (1)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461427)

I don't believe perfect/absolute pitch is being born with the ability to simply hear a note and know that it's C#. Rather, you have to be trained at least once that a certain sound is Bb, but later, any time you hear it, you know it's Bb. And I doubt that they'd be limited to a 12-tone pitch system unless that was all you ever exposed them to.

I'm sorry that I don't have a reference, but I believe I heard (pardon the pun) that we may all be born with perfect pitch but the vast majority of us soon lose this as we develop.

Re:Is it not more the case of losing perfect pitch (2, Informative)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461633)

... we may all be born with perfect pitch but the vast majority of us soon lose this ...

I think the point the GP is making is that no-one can be born with it as the 12-tone system is a man-made invention. Very experienced musicians are aware of what A is because over time they have learned what A is through the constant use when tuning instruments.

Tetrachromats (OT) (2, Informative)

jhdevos (56359) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461493)

I think the same thing can happen with color. Some people (tetrachromats, I think) have a very sensitive ability to discern and remember colors, such that they could see paint swab at the store and know if it matches the paint on the wall at home.

This is completely off-topic, but tetrachromacy is something else: it is when the eye has not three but four different types of color-discerning cells. That means the number of 'dimensions' in the visible color-space goes up by one -- the result is that tetrachromats can see some color-pairs as being completely different, while we normal people see them as completely the same.

See wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetrachromacy [wikipedia.org]

Jan

Re:Tetrachromats (OT) (2, Interesting)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462669)

That means the number of 'dimensions' in the visible color-space goes up by one -- the result is that tetrachromats can see some color-pairs as being completely different, while we normal people see them as completely the same.

I think the grandparent makes a sensible point about tetrachromats having an enhanced sensory response to different colors, which probably translates to better cognitive abilities related to color.

In terms of spectroscopy, normal human vision divides the whole spectrum of visible light into three bands, while tetrachromats have four bands. So I wouldn't call it an extra dimension (though it's true in a way), but rather simply increased resolution. Compare this to spectrometers, which usually have hundreds of bands.

From what I've read, tetrachromats have the extra band in addition to the usual three of RGB, so the four are not equally spaced. IIRC, the fourth is usually very close to R or G, so the extra sensitivity is not spread throughout the spectrum.

Re:Frist Psot? (5, Informative)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461369)

The twelve tone pitch system may well be a human invention, but it is based very closely (but not exactly) on the natural harmonics of a string (or open pipe).

If you take a string whose fundamental frequency is 440 Hz (an A) then harmonics are produced at twice, three times, four times, etc. that frequency. The notes corresponding to these are:

A (fundamental)
A one octave above (first harmonic)
E one octave and a fifth above (second harmonic)
A two octaves above
C# two octaves and a third above
E two octaves and a fifth above
G two octaves and a seventh above - slightly flat
A three octaves above

Beyond that the notes you get approximate less closely to the even-tempered western scale.

The pitch ratios for the even-tempered scale are given by a power-relationship:

p'/p = 2^(n/12)

where n is the number of semitones above p.

So for example, the closest even-tempered note to the second harmonic of A 440, E which is 19 semitones above, would have a pitch of

p' = 2.9966 * 440 Hz

which is slightly flatter than the natural harmonic 3 * 440 Hz.

What is interesting (to me at least) is that this means that if you follow a cycle of fifths from a starting note using natural pitches rather than even-tempered pitches, you never exactly get back to the note you started on. (Apparently Pythagoras was one of the first to record this observation.)

This caused no end of problems for early musicians. Instruments used to be tuned with systems based on natural pitches. This meant that instruments with fixed tunings (that the musicians could not easily alter as they played) would sound more in-tune in some keys than in others.

J S Bach was one of those who worked on a solution to this, and he came up with the modern even-tempered scale, which averages out the intervals so that all keys are equally in-tune (or out-of-tune).

If you have a well-trained ear then you can hear the slight beating that indicates this slight out-of-tuneness when you strike an open fifth on an even-tempered instrument (such as a piano). String and wind players are of course able to make the slight adjustments to overcome this tuning compromise, and if you listen to a really good string quartet you can sometimes hear the difference.

It wasn't J.S. Bach (4, Informative)

jenik (1030872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461555)

Modern equal tempering was not even developed until about 70 years after J.S. Bach's death. In his Well-tempered Clavier he made use of 'well tempering', which was an older technology. He didn't develop that one either though. http://www.jimloy.com/physics/scale.htm [jimloy.com] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well_temperament [wikipedia.org]

Er.... still artificial. (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461945)

That is all well and good, until you start with a string whose natural harmonic frequency is say, 445.6 Hz, 448 Hz, or any other random number.

It's not like in nature there is some "ideal guitar string tree" that grows strings of exactly 440 Hz. **We create strings** for our instruments that have harmonics that fit our **artificially created** scale.

Humans love to take natural elements and put them in pretend boxes.

Re:Er.... still artificial. (2, Interesting)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462471)

I'm not sure what your point is, but I don't think we're really in major disagreement. Of course A 440 Hz is an arbitrary standard. Come to that, 440 Hz as a number is dependent on an arbitrary definition of the length of a second, the use of the base ten number system, etc.

What isn't arbitrary is the relative pitches of notes in the Western scale - that is the ratio between pitches - which as I was trying to explain above, is related to real physics and is not at all arbitrary.

J.S. Bach (1)

oboeaaron (595536) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462261)

J S Bach was one of those who worked on a solution to this, and he came up with the modern even-tempered scale, which averages out the intervals so that all keys are equally in-tune (or out-of-tune).

This notion, that J.S. Bach "invented" equal temperament, is a canard that arose sometime in the early 20th century. Twelve-tone equal temperament had been proposed as a theoretical tuning system prior to Bach, but no one took it seriously enough to put it into practice. Instead, a (large) number of "unequal" temperaments were proposed and used; these tuning systems made some keys more "pure" in intonation than other keys, while still trying to preserve the playability of most of the keys. Around 1722, Bach wrote the first volume of the "Well-tempered clavier" ("clavier" was a generic term for any kind of stringed keyboard instrument), demonstrating that with a suitable temperament, all 24 major and minor keys were in-tune enough to be musically viable. There is, however, not a single shred of evidence or documentation that he ever used equal temperament. His tuning method was described by his son C.P.E. some years after his death, and while his description is vague, it clearly indicates the use of an unequal temperament (he refers to J.S. tuning "most of the fifths slightly flat;" in equal temperament all of the fifths are tuned slightly flat).

In fact, equal temperament was probably not consistently employed until the very late 19th or even early 20th century. See Owen Jorgensen for more on this. The modern fantasy that J.S. Bach employed equal temperament for the Well-tempered clavier is probably due to the modern proponents of this tuning system needing an historical "pioneer" to legitimize it.

The authors of many recent articles claim to have discovered Bach's intended tuning (see the last two years of the journal "Early Music"), but the reality is that he did not record the steps he used to tune his instruments, and the precise tuning system he devised will forever remain a mystery.

Re:Frist Psot? (4, Informative)

cybereal (621599) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461691)

I think you misunderstand what perfect pitch is. It's not the ability to associate a note name with a pitch. Though, that may be a side effect given proper practice. Perfect pitch is the ability to recognize a given tone/pitch without relationship to a previous tone. Most people don't know if they hear an A or an E without something before it that is identified.

More practically, most people could listen to a song's melody played in a specific key, then hear the same melody in another key the next day, and never know there was a difference. Those with perfect pitch would know there was a difference even if they weren't musicians and didn't know the letters assigned to those pitches. The fact that most of these people don't care plays into the perceived rarity of the ability. I, however, having perfect pitch, have made it a point to discover this quality in people I know. I find many people can do this and it's not as rare as often stated.

Re:Frist Psot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20462363)

I hear notes played and know if they're flat or sharp with no reference- but I can't tell you what note it is. I wonder if that counts.

Re:Frist Psot? (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462833)

I hear notes played and know if they're flat or sharp with no reference- but I can't tell you what note it is. I wonder if that counts.

Same here. I'm not sure if I have perfect pitch, and I cannot sing on key, but flats and sharps sound different in my head somehow. I used to play trumpet until I decided it was no fun years ago.

Re:Frist Psot? (1)

log0n (18224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462889)

This is exactly right. I also have perfect pitch. I've been a musician for 20 years (currently making my living as a performer) and I don't know now if this ability was something I was born with or if it was something I developed overtime (though interestingly, my father and my uncle [biological - his brother] who are also professional musicians also have perfect pitch) - probably a bit of both.

I do know that my training has enabled me to identify the invented aspect of PP.. knowing the note name without a previous reference. My main instrument is bass guitar/double bass (upright), and it started off as "recalling" the open strings and then mentally figuring the difference to the pitch in question. Now though, any note (in a typical 88 key piano range - crazy high hz is tough) is pretty much identifiable without this recall.

My totally unscientific finding has been a bit different. Most of my regular associates/peers are musicians and only one other has perfect pitch to the same level I do. Most musicians I know fall into the category of knowing the difference between notes but requiring knowing where they started to figure out where they are now (not sure if that made sense given the description of PP - and I say most because one of the best set drummers I know is tone deaf). My wife and her non-musical friends range anywhere from completely tone deaf (my wife ;-) to a musicians ability - though very underdeveloped. The biggest sort-of 'shocker' for me is my wife being unable to recognize something out of tune - like a perfect 5th with one string a little off from the other. She either doesn't recognize or hear the pulsing created by the conflicting frequencies.

I disagree with the article.. having an open A string has triggered something in my brain to always know it's open A which has given me enormous benefit in my chosen profession. The ability to transpose anything from any key to another.. alternate tunings.. etc etc and all of it in real time. I've been able to do this since the beginning.

Re:Frist Psot? (2, Funny)

El Jynx (548908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461715)

not entirely. The doubling of pitch is the difference in an octave; the complementary pitches in the octave (in other words, the sounds that sound happy, so no minors or sharps) are directly related (e.g. half of the doubling, 1/4, etc).

And on the side, I think anybody who has a mom with a voice as loud as my mom's learns absolute pitch as a natural defense mechanism.

Re:Frist Psot? (4, Insightful)

plams (744927) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461807)

No, no, no! Twelve-tone pitch is derrived from perfect intervals, such as perfect thirds [wikipedia.org] , fourths [wikipedia.org] and fifths [wikipedia.org] . These can be defined very cleanly as the integer ratio between two frequencies (look up just intonation [wikipedia.org] ). The ratios are mathematically beautiful and simple, and also sound particularly good. The temperated (12 note) scale used by nearly all instruments today is an attempt to fit these intervals into a common scale. You may say that this approximation is a human invention (even though it's cleanly defined as freq = 440hz * 2^(n / 12), where n is the semi-note distance from A4), but as a whole? No.

In other words, it proabbly wouldn't make any sense to use a 16 note scale or something like that. The 12 note scale has roots in something very mathematical, not something random or "human".

Re:Frist Psot? (1)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462211)

It's worth noting that the Indian classical music system, while also focusing on the same 12 intervals, further divides the scale into 22 smaller intervals or "shrutis". As others have pointed out, there is a logic and physical basis for the 12 notes, but also cultural factors have clearly played into this as well.

Re:Frist Psot? (5, Interesting)

semiotec (948062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460995)

I am not sure whether you really understood much here.

First, the "article" is not "weak on details". It's the abstract, if you want details, read the full article (link on the right-hand side, "Full Text (PDF)".

Second, "absolute pitch" or "perfect pitch" is sort of a innate ability. You can either have it or you don't, as the article shows that pitch accuracy is best in younger people. But there's different levels of the ability. If I hear a relatively clean note, I can pretty much identify what the pitch to within a semitone. However, I have problem just singing/humming a specific note as correctly without help. but I know a few people that can sing any note accurately without help and they can tell you whether your instrument is out of tune simply by their innate ability, without having to check with another instrument or tuning fork or some other gadget.

I've heard stories that it is possible to train to have the "perfect pitch" temporarily. Someone I know sang in the Stravinsky Mass, and they practiced so much that for a few months he was able to sing a B note correctly without assistance. But this is not permanent, they lose this if they stop "training" for it.

Now, what the article is reporting is that, people with perfect pitch, are starting to have this ability blurred due to the way orchestras inaccurately tune to a wide range of A. I assume this means they would have had exposure to such "tuning sessions" at the beginning of concerts and so on.

So this sort of the reverse of what you have written. AP is not trained, not acquired from accumulated experience, but it can be degraded gradually if you keep blurring their idea of what A should be.

The interesting part is, as per the abstract, they systematically get notes around A wrong, and more frequently than other notes:

"given as a pure tone, G# is as perceived sharp far more than any other tone, whereas errors in D occur infrequently"
"Interestingly, pure A# is most often perceived as flat, not in keeping with the other pitches,"
"A statistical analysis shows that G# is uniquely error-prone."

No, perfect pitch is a natural talent (2, Interesting)

TheMCP (121589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461093)

Thereminists discuss perfect pitch frequently, because a number of noted Thereminists have had it, and it's (falsely) rumored that perfect absolute pitch is required to play the instrument. (Actually, you just need very good relative pitch.)

People who have perfect absolute pitch tend to have always had it: it's a natural talent, or curse as the case may be. They find it painful to listen to tones that are "off key" - indeed, the family of the great Clara Rockmore tells us that she even hated touch tone telephones because the tones were not on-key notes and she didn't want to hear them.

While it is possible to train someone who has a pretty good sense of absolute pitch in the first place to refine it to become extremely good, they'll never reach that level of perfect absolute pitch which some have, in which they can't stand to even hear off key pitches. And someone who has a poor sense of absolute pitch may easily be able to develop their sense of relative pitch, but is unlikely to ever reach the level of being extremely good at it.

Re:No, perfect pitch is a natural talent (1)

semiotec (948062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461237)

I am not sure what you disagree with.

I said absolute/perfect pitch is an innate ability and that acquired AP skills is only temporary.

The finding of the article is that people with AP are having their senses of G#-A-A# blurred due to the way orchestras tune to a wide range of "A" sound.

So, what exactly are you disagreeing with?

Re:No, perfect pitch is a natural talent (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461255)

Clara Rockmore tells us that she even hated touch tone telephones because the tones were not on-key notes and she didn't want to hear them.
My understanding is that the tones were chosen so to avoid having harmonics in common, as that might cause the machinery to misidentify them. The jarring noise they make is a consequence of this.

Re:No, perfect pitch is a natural talent (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462651)

They find it painful to listen to tones that are "off key" - indeed, the family of the great Clara Rockmore tells us that she even hated touch tone telephones because the tones were not on-key notes and she didn't want to hear them.

I'm totally tone-deaf and I don't like them either. I do not want to hear a sound when I push a phone button. That's why you can disable that crap on all touch tone telephones.

Re:Frist Psot? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461163)

The interesting part is, as per the abstract, they systematically get notes around A wrong, and more frequently than other notes

Equal tempered scales aren't perfect. If you look at early keyboard instruments, some had distinct E-flat (slashdot won't let me use unicode symbols - slashdot janitors, please note that most of the world doesn't use straight ASCII any more) and D-sharp keys (again, lack of unicode prevents me from writing this properly). On fretless stringed instruments, you don't play the "exact" note in the same pitch as it would sound on a piano, you play a little above or below where it sounds "right".

Of course, why we should have some innate sense of when a note is in tune or not after being exposed to a lifetime of equal-temperament tuning is a bit strange. You'd think we'd get used to the slightly wrong tuning of modern pitch intervals.

Re:Frist Psot? (5, Informative)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461291)

The big villain in equal temperament is the sharp major thirds, perfect fifths and fourths are very close to the arbitrary ones, at 702 and 498 cents respectively. We're used to it enough to tolerate it but it's not the whole story of modern music.

We hear just-temperament tuning all the time. Consider that the overtones of resonant instruments are tuned perfectly (C-octave, G-fifth, C-fourth, E-major third, G-minor third, then that weird flat-seven Bb interval that still manages to be in tune, then C-major second) and you'll see that it really does get beaten into us all the time. Barbershop and even high school or college choirs end up with perfectly-tuned chords, often by accident, but it's natural. Really only modern keyboard instruments (organ, piano, glockenspiel, whatever) and electronic music (although some of the experimental stuff is just-toned) are based on equal temperament. Most other instruments are flexible enough (lipping, slides, fretless, half-holed, embouchure, whatever) to play tuned chords in whatever key.

Setting up a Yamaha electronic piano to play in one of the various unequal temperaments was quite an eye-opening experience for me, and it confirmed everything my music teacher had already been telling me. How good the pure chords sounded was almost as striking as how bad chords out of the key center sounded (Ab in Pure C, blech). I've become curious about studio pitch-correctors that seem to be so common in modern, over-produced 'music' - I know they are set up for analysing and correcting pitches to fit in certain keys, but are they equal- or just-tempered?

Re:Frist Psot? (2, Informative)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461769)

Good post (don't have mod points just now).

Natural/Just temperements have some interesting side effects. Bach (and some other composers) always claimed that if you played the same piece in a higher or lower key (even a semi-tone) that the whole mood changed. This would make sense as the beats between A and C# (key of A) and the beats between C and E (key of C) would be different in Natural Temperement.

Re:Frist Psot? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20462015)

The most common studio (and live, these days, they're rack mountable) pitch corrector is the Antares Auto-Tune...it can be tuned to a wide variety of scales (all your regular scales, plus a few chromatic variants) but as far as I know all the Automatic mode ones are equal tempered. However, it can be set up with manual pitch correction, and so it is possible for a skilled producer with an unskilled vocalist to produce vaguely authentic music in unusual keys.

Re:Frist Psot? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462507)

Setting up a Yamaha electronic piano to play in one of the various unequal temperaments was quite an eye-opening experience for me

It's something I'm quite interested in trying, actually. It would be pretty easy to modify a soft synth to use any arbitrary scale you like. If you have a look here [nekosynth.co.uk] around line 46 (code originally from Sean Bolton's Xsynth-DSSI), you'll see that the pitch table is constructed from the 12th root of 2 as per normal equal-tempered tuning. If you wanted to use a different scale you'd just bang other values into that array and your tuning would be adjusted to suit.

If you're interested in helping out, let me know.

Re:Frist Psot? (1)

semiotec (948062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461341)

thank you for pointing that out, and yes I am perfectly aware that it was around Bach's time that "well-tempered" scales came in the wide-usage and that early virginal/harpsichords/cimbalo have split keys for the black keys.

However, I'd advise you to just read the paper and you will see what their point is. It's quite straight-forward, and despite publication in a high-profile journal, it's quite easy to read.

G# and A#/B-flat are frequently wrong, and tend to be wrong in the same direction. They haven't proven orchestra-tuning is the case, it's just their hypothesis that the blurring around A is likely due to that factor.

Perfect pitch is a learned ability (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461391)

I don't agree with the article. In my experience, Perfect Pitch hearing is a learned ability. I had it while I studied and practiced music and I don't have it anymore. I've also found the same with friends who played for a while and then stopped. If it is a genetic trait, then you would neither need to learn it, nor would one ever unlearn it.

Re:Perfect pitch is a learned ability (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461641)

Someone with perfect pitch still needs to learn their reference notes to be able to make use of their abilities. Of course, if you haven't played any music for a long time, you will forget these.

The point is that someone who doesn't have perfect pitch wouldn't be able to learn it.

Re:Frist Psot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20461155)

I think you need to keep in mind that my favorite character is Hammond, he clearly is a God compared to Tealc, Tealc is pathetic...he should be cooked and eaten by Hammond at most...notice how Hammond in Season 1 looks somewhat normal, but then skip to say, season 7 and hes bigger, He lost his neck and looks like he would get stuck trying to go through the gate. I love him, his size must mean he gets more powerful, and has eaten Tealc many times by Season 7, he clones Tealc repeatedly and keeps eating him.

Did anyone (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460791)

deliverer this article to an editor?

Re:Did anyone (3, Funny)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460873)

Yes, but it was delivered orally in the key of A, so the discrepancy was not noticed.

Re:Did anyone (1)

Negatyfus (602326) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460933)

This post deliverers!

Mental reference pitches (2, Interesting)

ihuntrocks (870257) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460795)

I have pretty good pitch (not sure if you'd qualify it as "perfect"). Tuning to A (440 Hz) didn't really distort this ability though while I've been a musician. I do have a set of "reference pitches" that I can internalize and I can determine pitches relative to them. A440 is one of those pitches, but not the first one I use for reference, even though it is the "universal" tuning note. Could have something to do with it not being one of the notes I tuned my instrument to,and that I had a transposing instrument relative to concert pitches though.

Re:Mental reference pitches (2, Interesting)

u38cg (607297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460849)

Most people with a bit of training can produce and recognise various reference pitches - it's often made easier in that most instruments' tone varies with pitch, so people can learn to recognise the in-tune tone of their instrument. If you have that ability, naming other pitches by recognising the interval is not that far behind.

What is rare is true perfect pitch, and if you have real perfect pitch you will have no problem distinguishing a G# from an A. Not only that, you would most likely be able to nail it down to a few cents.

Re:Mental reference pitches (2, Interesting)

ihuntrocks (870257) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460895)

I don't have a problem differentiating chromatic pitches either. It's just a half step interval after all. Tuning I'm fairly good on by ear, though I tend to be a few cents flat by ear, but nothing bad. I find this to be true on all of the instruments I play also, as well as when I try to sing pitches (I may have a terrible singing voice, but I can sing the correct pitches).

Re:Mental reference pitches (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460919)

A440 is important because an orchestra is supposed to follow the first violin, and the main string on a violin is the A string, tuned at 440. The fine tuning cacophony you hear before a concert starts quite often has a plain A repeated at intervals throughout it -- this being the first violin letting others know what to tune against, if it isn't a standard 440. Sometimes it isn't, due to other instruments that might be hard to tune, like a concert piano (which can be 440, 442 or 452 Hz depending on where you are) or an old pipe organ (in which case all bets are off). Luckily, a violin is relatively easy to tune, and it's (in theory) the job of the first violinist to ensure he has a working A, which others then can tune their instruments to.

Regards,
--
*Art

Oboe (5, Informative)

nyet (19118) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460955)

The oboe, not the worthless violinist. Violins a dime a dozen. You only get two oboists (generally).

Re:Oboe (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20461361)


unless there's a piano being used, then it's the piano. typically it takes longer to tune the piano than other orchestral instruments...

Re:Oboe (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20461523)

unless there is a fish in the orchestra. In that case, the whole ordeal becomes very difficult: how can you tune a fish ?

Re:Oboe (1)

eutychus_awakes (607787) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461815)

You know how to get two oboes to play in tune, don't you?

Re:Oboe (1)

oboeaaron (595536) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462147)

You know how to get two oboes to play in tune, don't you?
Hire me?

Re:Oboe (1)

FlopEJoe (784551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462615)

"You know how to get two oboes to play in tune, don't you?"

"Kill one of 'em?" is the only thing that comes to mind. (not that I'm advocating Oboest-icide)

Re:Mental reference pitches (5, Informative)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461061)

The oboe is the instrument that stays in tune the best, and is the one a Symphony Orchestra tunes too. Most, if not all professional orchestras are Symphony's. So most professionals tune to the Oboe, not the first violin. Tuning starts where all the woodwinds and brass tune, then the oboe plays another A and the strings tune, and the percussion tune somewhere . Of course the woodwinds have to keep using their instruments or they will get cold and be out of tune so they keep playing until the start, while strings only need to warm up their fingers.

Excuse me (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460809)

The feed deliverers us news of research ...

And my thanks go to "The feed", for deliverering us this information.

The feed deliverers us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20460827)

"The feed deliverers us news of research suggesting that the use of A as the universal tuning frequency has made our ears less discerning of the notes immediately around it."

Am I the only one who understands what each of those words means (well, at least the ones that were spelled right), and yet totally failed to comprehend what was being said?

Summary is misleading (4, Interesting)

piojo (995934) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460901)

The article summary leaves out the important part. The summary:

the use of A as the universal tuning frequency has made our ears less discerning of the notes immediately around it.
It's not the use of A that distorts perfect pitch, it's the use of "alternate A's". A is accepted to be 440Hz. Some orchestras use other pitches, sometimes for a more Baroque feel--the pitch of the accepted A has changed over time (don't ask me how we know that), and on some instruments, it may sound more authentic to use the pitch a piece was originally composed for. So when people use different pitches for A (specifically, when the orchestra tunes), it messes up the perfect pitch that some people have just a little bit.

Re:Summary is misleading (1)

EdelFactor19 (732765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461045)

I dont know if i'd go that far. it doesnt matter what pitch you tune to, it matters what key the song is in.. Everyone tunes to A=440, but it doesn't mean the song is in that key, it just means everyone agrees on a certain pitch definition to allign the different instruments around.

what this post really seems to lack is the basic notion that it doesnt' matter which pitch we choose to tune to or what frequency its tuned at... the same thing will happen no matter what. If we tuned to A =220 itd be the same thing.

no matter what you tune to, it suggests that you will be bad at tuning things close to it... which basically just says we are bad at tuning because we are bad at tuning.. No matter what pitch you take we will be bad at it over time....

The only thing that this article possibly suggests is that you constantly change the note you tune to.
This of course is preposterous because of the large amounts of tempered tuning types that place different notes differntly, notable is the piano and even the guitar (nutvana, buzz feiten... anyone else who flatens the 3rd string so it sounds decently)

so todays circular logic lesson is that we are bad because we are bad; because any choice would lead us to the same place we are already at... So how much research money did we waste on this discovery?

Also the final conjecture is also a bit fishy... if you tune to different A's all the time wouldn't that widen every band... because A isnt the only note thats shifting everything else moves up or down a couple cents as well..... either way I honestly think this research in particular was a waste of time.. can i publish that people have a hard time finding shoes that fit because everyone thinks 12 is something different? Its the exact same thing pretty much, except theres money to be made. If I had any faith that wearing a size X in brand A meant I'd actually wear that size in brand Z i'd buy more sneakers online... Whereas I don't have perfect pitch and I doubt I will (or that I want it, my gf has it and hates it because everything out of pitch/tune/key leaps out at her), so I deal with having decent relative pitch and keep a tuner in my guitar case.. Real Hard

whats making people tone deaf? more likely the crap that passes for music these days thats on our airwaves that consists of lots of random clicks, booms, sampled random noises and everyones favorite: screaming :-P

Re:Summary is misleading (2, Interesting)

GomezAdams (679726) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461057)

It's not the use of different A's that make it authentic but rather the use of alternate scales. The modern tempered scale allows us to play music in any key. Older scales having different relationships among the 4ths, 5ths, 3rds, 6ths, minor 3rds, etc within the octave, was what many composers used to make the music have certain charateristics they wanted to bring out in the music. Mozart's "Requiem in D Minor" is a much different creature using the scales of Mozart's time vs the modern tempered scales. J.S. Bach popularized the modern scale with his "Well tempered Clavier" series - teaching pieces in all the scales to train pianist to play in any key. Before this time all instruments were scaled to meet the existing standard meaning differnt length of tubing on brass instruments than modern horns.

Re:Summary is misleading (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461409)

The modern tempered scale allows us to play music in any key.
Isn't it more of a fudge allowing us to play in an approximation of any key, without being too far off any of them?

Re:Summary is misleading (1)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461065)

The "standard" is different in other countries too. It's 440 here in the US, but 444 in Germany for instance. Also, there is not a universal "right" frequency for a note. "In Tune" depends on the particular cord. Pianos and the like are tuned to a set of notes that works pretty well, but wind and string players will often adjust pitches to be in tune properly. I can't tell you much more of the technical specifics myself, but as usual, Wikipeida provides: Musical temperament [wikipedia.org]

Re:Summary is misleading (1)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461067)

Helmoltz [wikipedia.org] 's book "On the Sensations of Tone" written in the mid-19th century has an entire section devoted to pitch wandering over time (and region).

Apparently tuning forks are very accurate and do not degrade more than a few cents over hundreds of years. Typically every major hall would have its own tuning fork, owned by the master conductor or organist. Occasionally, in some traditions, the choir would have a much lower lower "A" pitch (400-415Hz was typical, even less was possible) than the orchestral or chamber musicians.

I can scarcely imagine how they worked this out if an instrumentalist or two were borrowed for the choir. I guess key-change slides for brass horns would come in handy. Dark times...

Re:Summary is misleading (1)

Harold Halloway (1047486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461131)

As well as using a slightly lower 'Baroque' tuning, orchestras have, over the past ten or twenty years, been experimenting with using a slightly higher reference. Apparently this gives the music slightly more dynamism and excitement.

Re:Summary is misleading (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461337)

I don't follow this argument. If this is so, why is perfect pitch particularly messed up regarding A, and not other notes? Surely if you move A up by a few Hertz, you move everything else accordingly?

Re:Summary is misleading (1)

Mr Jazzizle (896331) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461587)

Now, I'm not an expert, but I've studied this stuff. Everything else does indeed move, but not by the same amount. Other pitches are determined using a certain formula, sort of like centrigrate to farenheite formula, just because one goes up the other doesn't go up by the same amount. Terrible analogy. But I think maybe you get the point. Other notes might be less different. Or maybe *guessing* we're use to other notes wavering around, but the tone of the A sticks with us. I don't know.

441Hz for easier maths (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462743)

It might be worth throwing into the debate the use of 441Hz that I've seen in quite a few computer-based synthesisers. With the CD standard of 16bit 44.1kHz sampling (or more recently multiples thereof), having an A at 441 makes tuning tables a bit easier to work out.

not related to technology at all (5, Informative)

mateomiguel (614660) | more than 6 years ago | (#20460963)

There is no mention of modern tuning methods in the first article. The article simply says that different orchestras use different frequencies roughly around the same pitch for A. This is not a new thing.

You would expect modern tuning methods to make the official definition of A more exact, thus eliminating the problem spoken about in the article. That's what I thought, and I'm a musician. In fact the standard A4 frequency has been defined as 440 Hz. That means that if you hear the London Philharmonic Orchestra they should be tuned to A4=440 Hz, and the Timbuktu Traditional Blowpipe Ensemble should also be tuned to A4=440Hz, because its easy to carry around a pocket piece of electronics to make a perfect 440 Hz sound.

BUT

This article does not say that. In fact it says that different orchestras all over the world still are not in sync, which has been the case for ALL OF RECORDED HISTORY [uk-piano.org] . The article says that because of this phenomenon, even those who can hear absolute pitch are confused as to what name they should give the frequencies immediately around 440Hz because of the variations. This is not new, or news, or related to technology in any way. Its just a fact of life.

Re:not related to technology at all (4, Interesting)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461597)

Thank-you, well said. I've heard a few musicians say that 'perfect' pitch is actually a curse - due to equal temperament and the fact that concert pitch is a variable concept, those with that gift are likely to hear most of the music they listen to as out of tune.


Some studios change the speed of recordings without correcting pitch because it sounds better (apparently) - I'm a musician (rock, not classical) and I often have to retune my guitar to play along with recordings even though I have a decent electronic tuner set to A4=440. I've often wondered (maybe because I don't have that gift) who gets to say what 'perfect pitch' is: is it just people who happen to have an inbuilt sense of A4=440; should be people with an inbuilt sense of A4=415 be called 'perfect dystonics' or something ?!

Far more useful is a very good relative pitch - being able to instantly recognise all the intervals and sing/play harmonies without thinking about it will make a far better musician than someone who happens to be able to tune their instrument to concert pitch without a reference note.

Re:not related to technology at all (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461863)

What -is- new, relatively speaking, is the ability to hear music from all over the world. Throughout most of recorded history, you had very limited exposure to music in other countries. Now, we have Radio, TV, CDs, Internet... We're flooded with it. Instead of a person with Perfect Pitch only being exposed to local music, they actually experience much more non-local music than local.

I'm missing something (1)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461013)

I dunno. I'm one of those few (I won't call myself rare) that can detect the slightest bit of off-key-edness and it drives me bat shit crazy when I can hear it. Like I'll be grooving to a live performance and then I'll notice that the lead guitarist is oh-ever-so-slightly out of tune, and it will ruin the whole experience for me. But as long as everyone is in tune with each other, then what does it really matter, or am I missing something?

I'll also look up if I hear an airplane engine when the pitch doesn't sound "right" to me. Not that I'd really know or anything, I'm no airplane mech or anything.

Re:I'm missing something (1)

rivaldufus (634820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461073)

that's a good sense of "relative" pitch. It's pretty handy for all of us who don't have perfect pitch. One of the annoying things for people with perfect pitch is that most of them (if not all of them) start hearing all pitches (even when they're perfectly in tune) sharp. With good relative pitch, you have no issue starting off on a different A.

You can be trained to have good relative pitch, but I'm not so sure you can "learn" perfect pitch (although there are methods for developing perfect pitch - I've never met anyone who succeeded.)

I know one... (1)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461149)

I'm pretty sure he didn't have "it" when he started at college, but after enough practice my friend Rhonert got the hang of it. He can whip out any pitch now on demand and he's always been confirmed to be right. At least in his case, holding himself to a higher standard and becoming immersed in musical performance and music nerd culture did the trick.

I, on the other hand, have excellent relative pitch (I can tell you if a sequential interval is out of tune by 10 cents, wide or narrow) but only a weak sense of absolute pitch - if I guess a pitch I'll be close but typically flat, occasionally sharp, and it usually depends on how well my voice is doing that day, whether I'm singing the pitch or not, or if I can associate that pitch with a song I know well. When I spontaneously break out into a favourite aria in public I'm usually very near the original key, but a popular or traditional song I will definitely sing in the key of Comfortable!

Re:I know one... (1)

rivaldufus (634820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461199)

Interesting. I wonder if he always had perfect pitch, but had never developed it.

I developed good relative pitch in college (and have lost it, somewhat, years later.) I can "remember" for some time how, say, D sounds after playing piano for while, but eventually I "forget."

Re:I'm missing something (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461129)

I've got that but not to that degree probably.. I've heard top 40 tunes that have been really popular have off key notes and/or singers and nobody around me noticed.. I just can't listen to it. It's not perfect pitch - I couldn't name the note that's wrong.. it's just *wrong* dammit!

Re:I'm missing something (1)

rivaldufus (634820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461229)

I know what you mean. Of course, a lot of newer stuff has so much pitch correction that you think you're listening to a keyboard. Lay off the Autotune/Melodyne a little! Of course, they try to adjust it to sound more human, but then it just sounds strangely out of tune.

Re:I'm missing something (1)

eutychus_awakes (607787) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461797)

What I hate is when old classic rockers sing their tunes in concert at a lower key, since their voices can't quite hit the high notes like they used to. . .it makes the whole thing sound flat and lifeless to me. Plus, I know EXACTLY what they're doing and why. Cheap cheap cheap.

Re:I'm missing something (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462135)

That bugs me too, but what bugs me even more is the live music is often played at a different tempo, usually faster, than the studio recording.

Re:I'm missing something (1)

yada21 (1042762) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461413)

So I ouht to count the fact that I have tin ear's as a blessing?

something to try (4, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462431)

You can demonstrate perfect pitch to a bystander that's butchering something if you can whistle a good solid tone and so can they.

Not sure if it's uncommon or not, but I can match another person's whistle to the cycle, and it has an interesting effect. Ask them to whistle a good pure solid tone and not waver or drift. Be sure to tell them to NOT STOP whistling, even if they feel they're not whistling anymore.

If you can lock onto their whistle quickly, (before you run outa breath!) you can beat them cycle for cycle, and it has the effect of zeroing out the tone. When you are near perfect, the sound where the whistle originates will change. Instead of hearing it from yourself and your friend, it will appear to be coming from somewhere between where the two of you stand. (be sure you're a good 5 ft apart) This is very unsettling because for a time during the duration you can't hear yourself or the other person whistling and it tends to influence one or both of you "move" a little bit up or down just so you can hear yourself again.

People standing off to the side will get the weirdest look on their face as they can hear the whistle slowly drifting back and forth between the two of you, as your pitch is 1/8 cycle or so off from each other, causing it to nearly zero beat. You can of course perfectly match them but that's no fun as the perceived origin of the sound does not drift between the two of you, it merely stops somewhere in between.

equal temperament also affects people... (5, Informative)

rivaldufus (634820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461153)

especially string players (with no frets.) It's very difficult, if not impossible, for them to play continually in equal temperament (unless playing with an equal temperament instrument such as piano.) The usual definition of Equal temperament is that octave is (usually) divided into 12 evenly spaced pitches. Modern day keyboard instruments are all tuned like this. It's fairly effective compromise, as all the keys (C Major, F minor, Eb minor, etc.) all sound the same. Unfortunately, a fifth or even a third for a given key is slightly out of tune (the half step and the octave are the only perfectly in tune intervals on a modern day piano.) In the other systems, there may be a perfectly tuned fifth and third for a given key, but other keys may sound horribly out of tune. Certainly, equal temperament is a more practical solution than constantly retuning a piano to a different pitch each time you drastically change keys.

Unrelated - My wife has perfect pitch - and I sometime "detune" my clavinova to D mean tone or some other system and play something in Eb minor. I certainly notice the difference, but it drives her crazy. She also has great difficulty when required to tune her violin for Baroque music (A 415.)

Re:equal temperament also affects people... (1)

lysse (516445) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462493)

Unfortunately, a fifth or even a third for a given key is slightly out of tune (the half step and the octave are the only perfectly in tune intervals on a modern day piano.)

And even saying that, many pianos employ "stretch tuning", where notes are tuned progressively sharper the higher up the keyboard they are. So octaves aren't even tuned in tune either...

Having said which, much of the richness of an ensemble sound comes from the fact that each player is just slightly out of tune with the others; likewise, much of the richness of an analogue synth comes from the marginal tuning instabilities of analogue oscillators... and one of the most universally recognised sounds in dance music is basically a bunch of sawtooth waves wildly out of tune with each other (the spread can be as much as half a semitone). So there's a lot to be said for not being quite in tune.

A transposing instrument (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462755)

She also has great difficulty when required to tune her violin for Baroque music (A 415.)
A at 415.0 Hz is pretty much the same as concert G# at 415.3 Hz. Does your wife also have difficulty with a Bb trumpet, whose A is at concert G (392.0 Hz) or other such transposing instruments [wikipedia.org] ?

Don't trust anything from Friemer (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20461363)

I wouldn't trust any study from Nelson Friemer. I took a Genetics class at UCSF when he was there. He gave a lecture,
and showed us a graph that didn't look right- as if the axes were swapped. The main lecturer for the class, Ira Herskowitz was sitting next
to me and noticed the same thing. I will always remember his comment- "Nelson, normally, in science, we align the dependent variable with the vertical axis when
trying to imply a functional relationship".

After that, I noticed pretty much everything he said showed a pernicious lack of rigor and every pitch study he's produced has been a load of bullcrap.

Bring on the penis jokes! (0, Offtopic)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20461971)

PNAS! Come on!

I know we've done it before, but that doesn't stop us. Allow me to demonstrate:

In Soviet Russia, us stops that! Frist psot! Reductium Ad Hitler.

only on earth (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462091)

So.. a minuscule amount of people with accurate pitch sensing ability are screwed because of human invention of a modern western twelve tone system, to which they are forced into. The technology shapes our realities in a way where we are being tested against rigid and arbitrary standards devised by ourselves. Sounds like a normal day on Earth, whose inhabitants seem to have the amazing ability of locking themselves into their own mental labyrinths.

Octave? (0)

rossdee (243626) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462311)

Since the whole world (with the exception of the USA) uses the metric system, why not change to metric music?

You could use 1000hz as the reference frequency and have a 10 note decave instead of a 12 note octave. (Hey shouldn't an octave be eight notes?)

Re:Octave? (2, Interesting)

Mode_Locrian (1130249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462481)

There are plenty of alternative tuning systems, though I don't know if a "metric" tuning has been done (though I wouldn't be surprised at all if someone had already tried it). Just as an example, Javanese Gamelan music uses two different tuning systems, both of which (iirc) divide the octave unevenly between five pitches. In any event, I think that our current tuning system is really quite a reasonable one. Ignoring the fact that A is the note commonly tuned (this, I think, is more of a historical accident based on the fact that this is an open string on a violin) the frequencies of the "home note", C, are actually all powers of 2. Middle C is 512Hz, an octave above it is 1024Hz, an octave below it is 256Hz etc. That strikes me as being a lot neater than a "metric" system anyway. Oh, and I think that the reason it's called an octave has to do with the fact that the eighth note of the traditional Western scale is the repeated one. E.g. C D E F G A B C

10edo? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462791)

You could use 1000hz as the reference frequency and have a 10 note decave instead of a 12 note octave. (Hey shouldn't an octave be eight notes?)
A 10-edo (10 equal divisions of octave) scale would be similar in character to the slendro scale [wikipedia.org] , which is approximately 5edo. But would it have anything close to the nice 3:2 and 5:4 just intervals [wikipedia.org] that the more familiar Western 12edo based scales [tonalsoft.com] approximate?

mod 0p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20462329)

cen!traliazed

failZOrs (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20462517)

playing so it's MOVIE [imdb.com]

Standards (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462555)

The nice thing about standards, is that there's so many to choose from.

Idiotic premise of this article - you have to tune to SOMETHING.

Web-based surveys are not cheat-proof (1)

maccallr (240314) | more than 6 years ago | (#20462561)

I've only read the abstract, but my first thought was that someone doing a web-based survey might pick up their guitar and figure out the correct answers...

For more web-based music, see my sig.

Erm, Indian Music, not to mention others? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20462707)

None of this means diddly squat outside Western codifications of the diatonic note system. Indian and Arabic music use microtonal variations (quartertones and smaller) within a broadly speaking diatonic scale. Even the tonic note is negotiable - in part because Indian musicians aren't bound to such an arbitrary standard, but mainly because instruments such as sitar and tabla, with gourd or animal skin resonators and, in many cases, sympathetic strings are the devil to keep in tune given variations of temperature and humidity.
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