#1
Greetings UGers,

So I was trying the fall asleep the other night, where the deepest of thinking occurs, and I now have a question. Hopefully this isn't a silly question.

So, you know how the tuning/key (no idea the right word to use) we generally use for all musical instruments I can think of. Basically A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#. But what about all those pitches in between? Is there a reason we use what seems to be the standardized "key" or just that there are instruments that use other "keys" that I'm simply not aware of?

Hopefully my question is clear enough
#2
Most Western instruments use a 12-tone note set.

However, some Eastern instruments use a 24-tone set. So, there would be a note between A & A#, B & C, D & D#, etc.
#3
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Most Western instruments use a 12-tone note set.

However, some Eastern instruments use a 24-tone set. So, there would be a note between A & A#, B & C, D & D#, etc.

I did not know that. But it still uses the same root notes technically right. You pick an octave and divide it into equal segments to get your "key". But how is first note of the octave, say A is chosen. Why isn't it like 1/10th of a semitone higher or something?

Sorry, I don't know how to phrase my question better haha.
#4
I think you are referring to "concert pitch".

Concert pitch is an agreed frequency (A=440Hz) so that we can all agree on what an A is and a B and a C etc. We can then tune our instruments to the same frequency and then all be in tune with each other.

But concert pitch has not always been A=440Hz. I believe that it used to be a bit lower, closer to Ab. But over time orchestras would tune slightly sharp to make their performances seem a little brighter. Then all the other orchestras would do the same or tune slightly sharper. It becomes a vicious circle and we would continually be moving concert pitch higher and higher.

So it became an agreed standard. A=440Hz. And that was that. Some orchestras may still tune slightly sharp but we have an agreed standard pitch.

In contemporary music, particularly guitar based music, not all songs are tuned to concert pitch. As long as the instrument is in tune with itself and in tune with all the other instruments that it is playing with then it will sound fine.

So when you're playing along to a CD recording you would start with standard pitch (A=440) and may need to adjust your tuning slightly sharper or lower to match the recording. Of course if you tune too sharp then it just becomes A# or if you tune too low then it just becomes Ab.

But yeah you don't have to use concert pitch, you just have to be in tune with yourself and whomever else you're playing with.

I can't remember but if I recall correctly this song is in F but not tuned to concert pitch.,,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK4DeMYtumc&feature=kp

Hope that makes sense.

EDIT: Here is Wiki article you might find interesting... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concert_pitch#History_of_pitch_standards_in_Western_music
Si
#6
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Most Western instruments use a 12-tone note set.

However, some Eastern instruments use a 24-tone set. So, there would be a note between A & A#, B & C, D & D#, etc.


And this is the reason that when you start listening to music from different cultures it might sound out of tune. I got heavily into Turkish classical music, Traditional Chinese music and Indian Sitar music about two years ago, and in the beginning it might be hard to listen to just because we are used to our 12-tone note set.

However, we also use some notes that are not a part of the 12-tone note set. The most obvious being the pitch in between a major and minor third, which is extremely common in blues.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#7
^ Yeah.

Even some popular songs use microtones. I think there's a list on youtube. IIRC "nothing compares 2 u" by sinead o'connor has it in the main hook/lyric in the chorus.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#9
Quote by Duaneclapdrix
May I have some recommendations?


For Turkish music check out: Beytocan, Erkan Ogur, Yansimalar, Kermani Tatyos Efendi, Dede Efendi.

For Chinese music: Guo Yue, Sevara Nazarkhan (specifically the album Tortadur), Liu Fang, Anna Guo.

Indian music: Nikhil Banerjee, Vilayat Khan, Ali Akbar Khan, Ravi Shankar.

Throwing in some Greek Bouzouki music aswell, since i forgot to mention it in my original post. For that check out: Bouzouki Kings, Zorba's Bouzouki Band, Dromos Bouzouki band, Paraskevas Grekis.

All of them can be found on spotify.
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#10
For anyone who wants to try 24-tone equal temperament on their bog-standard, 12-tone equal temperament guitar:

Tune a few of your strings flat or sharp by fifty cents (your tuner will spasm back and forth between A and A#, for instance, and tell you that you're an idiot and shouldn't be doing this it swears on its mum.) Proceed to play notes. Your off-tuned string(s) now contain one half of the 24 tones of the temperament, while your normal strings contain the other half. Yay obviousness.
You might could use some double modals.
#11
Quote by AETHERA
For anyone who wants to try 24-tone equal temperament on their bog-standard, 12-tone equal temperament guitar:

Tune a few of your strings flat or sharp by fifty cents (your tuner will spasm back and forth between A and A#, for instance, and tell you that you're an idiot and shouldn't be doing this it swears on its mum.) Proceed to play notes. Your off-tuned string(s) now contain one half of the 24 tones of the temperament, while your normal strings contain the other half. Yay obviousness.

Dude that's some crazy idea right there. Have you done it? Does it just sound like dog's balls or did you get anything interesting out of it? I might retune one of my guitars and give it a try for a few days...maybe.
Si
#12
As I'm sure you can imagine, there are a number of technical issues with using the aforementioned hack in any way that actually resembles 24-tone equal temperament: you can't play consecutive quarter tones without using bends, a slide (the piece of hardware, not the technique), or playing on alternating strings; depending on the layout of your detuned strings, playing harmonies using sufficiently rich groupings of notes from the full 24-tone set can be challenging without also significantly changing the reference note of an open string, which is to say more than just tuning it away a quarter tone; scalar lines take some mental effort to coordinate. That said, you can get some fun dyadic harmony and simple altered triads if you are willing to keep yourself constrained to just a few tricks and expeditions.

One thing which I found fun was using the 24-tone trick to get synthetically to 8-tone equal temperament. Within 12-tone equal temperament, our standard chromatic scale, you already have access to any n-tone equal temperament for which n is a factor of 12, meaning 6-, 4-, 3-, 2-, and 1-tone equal temperament. The neat thing about those is that they are already known by other names: whole tone scale, diminished seventh chord, augmented triad, tritone, and octave. The same math applies to 24, allowing you to get an additional n of 8. In more common terms, 8-tone equal temperament is a diminished seventh chord superimposed on the diminished seventh chord 1.5 semitones away. It's pretty fun to fudge around in, and it actually doesn't sound too bad, to the point where you can generate pleasant leading tone -> tonic-esque note setups for single melodies. I like how 8-tone sounds, at least.

The most conventional musical use of 24-tone equal temperament that you or I or anyone would use with any sort of commonality, on the other hand, would be for quarter tone trills or maybe certain blue notes, but those can be accessed better by tapping a string (not a fret!) with a slide or pick for trills and bending for the blue notes (which is a large part of blues sound anyway.) It's a neat thing to play around with though, if only for the challenge of working with something completely different.
You might could use some double modals.
Last edited by AETHERA at May 4, 2014,
#13
Quote by 20Tigers
Dude that's some crazy idea right there. Have you done it? Does it just sound like dog's balls or did you get anything interesting out of it? I might retune one of my guitars and give it a try for a few days...maybe.


That's what I was thinking.

Other thing is, if your tuner has a wide enough calibration range, you might be able to adjust it to tune the quarter tone notes fine, without having to resort to the "needle inbetween the two pitches" that AETHERA said. Might make it slightly easier. I'm no tuner afficionado, though, maybe they don't have as wide of a calibration range. I think my planet waves one does, though, according to the manual (it's new and I haven't tried anything fancy yet ) it can go from 400 to 499 Hz for A, so theoretically that should work. Though I'm guessing it'd be a pain in the ass to have to constantly recalibrate. I guess you could tune the 3 "correct" strings at a time and then recalibrate to tune the other 3, though. EDIT: ah I think I'm confusing cents and hertz I still reckon it would work, though, I mean the octave of A is 880Hz and there are 12 semitones in there, so I'm guessing there'd still be enough range.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at May 5, 2014,
#14
^Yeah my tuner also lets you adjust concert pitch. And that is more than enough range.

The mathematical formula for the frequencies in 12 tone equal temperament tuning is as follows:

F=X*2^(Y/12)

Where...
F is the frequency you want to find.
X is your starting frequency (so for concert pitch A, X=440)
Y is the number of semitones you want to calculate from x.
2 represents an octave (doubling of frequency takes you to the octave)
12 is the number of divisions in your equal temperament.

So in concert pitch A=440Hz an A# is 466.1638 (or just 466hz). A range of 400-490 covers a range of a little lower than Ab to a little higher than A# (i.e. greater than a semitone in either direction).

If you want to calculate a frequency in 24 TET you would replace the 12 in the formula with 24.

Thus if A=440 then a quarter tone would be 440*2^(1/24) = 452.893.

So you'd set your tuner for A=440 and tune like the E D B strings and then set your tuner to A=452.9 or 453, whatever your tuner can handle and tune your A G E strings.
Si
#15
I was just thinking about ways to tune the guitar that would facilitate this idea even more and I think I've got a good idea, though you wouldn't be able to just use a set of regular guitar strings. My idea:

Eb+1/4
Eb
C+1/4
C
A+1/4
A

The idea is to basically double each string, but make one a quarter tone higher, so you'd only have the range of about half of the regular guitar. Unless you make a custom nut just for this then you'd have to base it around strings similar in size to the G B and E since the larger strings wouldn't fit. I think it might make it easier to tune the three normal strings to A C E or A C Eb so that the interval between strings is smaller. A C E would be good since each of the "normal" open strings would be a natural note. But I think A C Eb would be better since it would make everything symmetrical.

To go straight up through each note it would be like:
Eb'|-----------------------------------0---1---2---3----
Eb |---------------------------------0---1---2---3------
C' |-------------------0---1---2---3--------------------
C  |-----------------0---1---2---3----------------------
A' |---0---1---2---3------------------------------------
A  |-0---1---2---3--------------------------------------

(I notated the + quarter step strings with ' )


I'll have to pick up the strings to do this and try it out sometime.
#16
Quote by 20Tigers
^Yeah my tuner also lets you adjust concert pitch. And that is more than enough range.

The mathematical formula for the frequencies in 12 tone equal temperament tuning is as follows:

F=X*2^(Y/12)

Where...
F is the frequency you want to find.
X is your starting frequency (so for concert pitch A, X=440)
Y is the number of semitones you want to calculate from x.
2 represents an octave (doubling of frequency takes you to the octave)
12 is the number of divisions in your equal temperament.

So in concert pitch A=440Hz an A# is 466.1638 (or just 466hz). A range of 400-490 covers a range of a little lower than Ab to a little higher than A# (i.e. greater than a semitone in either direction).

If you want to calculate a frequency in 24 TET you would replace the 12 in the formula with 24.

Thus if A=440 then a quarter tone would be 440*2^(1/24) = 452.893.

So you'd set your tuner for A=440 and tune like the E D B strings and then set your tuner to A=452.9 or 453, whatever your tuner can handle and tune your A G E strings.


Thanks I had a quick look on wikipedia when I typed that earlier but I didn't see anything relating cents to hertz. Thanks very much for the info
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#17
Well, there's literally tons of 24 tone music written in standard western notation.

But I would say that western music has always been microtonal. Only fixed pitch instruments play fixed pitches, and not even guitars are in perfect equal temperament. To this day, wind players talk about syntonic commas and such which can represent a change in pitch of as much as 22 cents! If you want to play the 11th partial tritone, it's 48 cents flat!

I suggest you look up robin Hayward. He plays a tuba which can chromatically produce 1/64 tones (that equates to 3 cents). Look up period baroque music as well. Gamelan music not only is microtonal but the gamelon produces a dissonant harmonic series
#18
Standard tuning is EADGBE. E would be the top string, A would be second from the top and so on. To play Adam's song, it's down a whole step, or the tuning would be DGCFAD.
#19
You can get guitars that have extra frets to get the in-between pitches.
The Harmonic Series is an infinite, naturally occurring series of purely tuned pitches. Standard tuning uses only one of these intervals, the octave, and mistunes or 'tempers' the rest. So most people never even have the chance to experience playing pure intervals and chords for themselves.
www.microtones.com
www.fretlessbrothers.com