Why do High Notes sound high...

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by BrianT, Jun 18, 2006.

  1. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    OK, three ways to play the same pitch - a cornet player plays middle C (one leger line down); a Euph player plays C (middle space) and a Bb bass plays top C (two leger lines up). They're all the same pitch (aren't they?) - so why does it sound like there's so much more effort required when the bigger instruments play the note? Someone explain to me, and if you use words like "partials" in your reply please say what they mean.
  2. jingleram

    jingleram Active Member

    Could it be something to do with the width and length of tubing in the bigger instruments? No clues here sorry!
  3. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    Probably one of the main reasons is how well the player is adapted to playing that pitch. A bottom C on a cornet is a one that all cornet players will play fairly regularly from when the start learning. A middle C on a Euph will be a note that most Euph players will play regularly from about lesson 15 of tune a day (or earlier). But a top C on a BBb bass will be played less often. Therefore the BBb not will not be as strong, or as full a note.

    If you think about the top note that you play regularly, notes higher than that will sound weaker and the same the other way. Like for me, I'm playing Solo Tromb, so I regularly play up around the G to top C range and can get a fairly decent sound and fairly easily despite not practicing enough. However if I was playing second tromb, and didn't often need to go much above an A, and regularly played closer to the middle C range, I think my higher notes would sound weaker (unless I did all the practice I should).

    I'm sure there is a technical reason as well, but for the majority of players I'm sure the above has as much to do with it as anything else.
  4. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

    I'm no physicist, but I would imagine it is something to do with the harmonic series and the shape of the soundwave as it passes through the instrument? Could be way off track here though.....
  5. cos..... bigger instruments have got a rich warm sound where as cornets hav this natural squark thing goin on..... actually i have no idea..... jus wanted 2 put my point across that horns euphs an baris are better than cornets..... lol... again no offence 2 the cornets at Hatfield cos they ARE an exeption.... and they WOULD kill me..... hehe xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  6. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    If you want to hear really high notes go to the House of Music museum in Vienna they have a machine which when you listen to it plays a scale which goes up and up and up and you can still hear the note. This is amazing that you know it can possibly be getting as high as you think - how could you still hear it?. It's apparently an aural illusion and it's something to do with playing three notes at the same time and one moving on each time.

    Tried to find the correct term for this but it was the ? scale.

    Found this and it mentions partials?

    "This demonstration uses a cyclic set of complex tones, each composed of 10 partials separated by octave intervals. The tones are filtered to produce a constant distribution of sound level as a function of frequency. The frequencies of the partials are shifted upward in steps corresponding to a musical semitone (about 6%). The result is the illusion of an "ever-ascending" scale."
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2006
  7. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Do a quick search on the physics of pipes ;)

    It's likely that the answer is that even though you're playing a note of (approximately) the same frequency, the bass instruments are having to play the harmonic as was mentioned above. It's a physically harder process to get an instrument to resonate at higher harmonics due to, for example, speed of the air column, so it's harder to get a top C out of a BBb bass than it is a bottom C out of a cornet.
  8. JDH

    JDH Member

    I would think the C is more difficult on the bass principally because it is higher in the harmonic series of the BBb bass than the euph, or cornet.

    Also with the bigger instrument, more air needs to be moved and the mouthpiece is larger making higher notes that more difficult to produce. After all a french horn has as long tubing as an F tuba, but can play much higher with the small mouthpiece and narrow bore tubing.

    I have found on my EEb bass that just using a shallower cup mouthpiece can make playing higher notes easier - so small changes like that make a difference.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2006
  9. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    It is to do with harmonics (upper partials)
    When, say, a euph plays a top C it's aural perception is it sounds much higher than a cornet playing its equivilant note, due to the fact that the euph is playing its top register and hense more of the higher harmonics will come through but the cornet is playing its middle register and the higher harmonics aren't coming through as strong.

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