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Introduction to the Physics of Music

Entire books have been devoted to the study of the physics of music. The mechanisms by which our instruments produce the beautiful sounds that they do are as varied as they are complex. Here you can read a little about the physics of intonation.

You may have heard that an A above middle C is at "440". This refers to 440 hertz, or 440 vibrations per second. This measurement is called the frequency of a pitch.

When you go up an octave, the pitch doubles. Likewise, when you descend an octave, the pitch halves. Therefore, the A above high C is at 880 hertz. The A below middle C, 220 hertz. Refer to this chart to peruse the frequencies of the chromatic scale.

"Cents" refers to the distance between chromatic notes. There are 100 cents between two consecutive chromatic pitches. For example, there are 100 cents between C and C#. You can only be out of tune 50 cents -- if you were 60 cents sharp on C, you would only be 40 cents flat on C#.


Sheet Music for Practice

Flute Scales 
Clarinet Scales 
Saxophone Scales
Oboe Scales 
Trumpet Scales 
Trombone Scales 
Tuba Scales 
Guitar Scales 
Violin Scales 
Viola Scales 
Cello Scales 
Bass Scales