Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Alex, Dec 4, 2005.

  1. Has anyone here ever thought about how strange the concept of an octave is. I mean, how are there only 12 types of notes in the entire universe? How is one higher note the SAME as another lower note. Is anyone as fascinated by this as I am? Also, have you realized that every time you cut a string in half you go up an octave? don't believe me? scale length is not measured by the distance from the nut to the bridge. That measurement is irrelevant. Scale length is the distance from your nut to the 12th fret doubled. And the 12th fret is....YES an octave. Also, ever wonder why frets get closer together higher up the neck? because the 24th fret has to be 3/4 of the way up the scale because that is half of half, which goes up another octave! So you have to fit the next 12 frets in half the space that the first 12 frets were!

    I find this extremely cool and fascinating. There's probably some very simple scientific explanation for this, though. :rollno:

    Do you guyz find this as cool as I do?

  2. It's all relative to the people that classify it. The chinese musical notation system only comprises of 5 notes. I think it's the same for african music, which is big of rhythms of course. Indian and Middle Eastern music have micro tonality. There are MORE notes than in the 12 musical notes you hear.

    I forgot who the composer is, but during the comtemporary pieces of the 20th century, one man developed a 48 notes to the octave system, and devised his own notation system on how to play it.

    So there are NOT 12 notes in the entire universe, plus, we could have gone on to say that an octave of A was H, an octave of B was I and so on and so forth.
  3. That's very western minded. It's a western thing (12 note octave.) Check out other world music specifically middle eastern!

    and let that blow your mind.
  4. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Yeah, Pythagoras and his buddies were on top of this stuff a few thousand years ago.

    Here's some quickly found reading material.

    And here's some more Pythagoras related material.

    If this is a topic that really interests you, I highly suggest that you research Pythagoras a little bit and get a book about his life and his teachings. His work goes back to the time when they were discovering the facts about numbers and attributing their seemingly mystical qualities to the divine. There was some pretty funky stuff going on amongst the mathematicians of the day... :eyebrow:
  5. I've wondered about this too. Like, why is a note a note? I mean, if you play a fretless bass, you can find TONS more notes then a fretted bass. You can make 2 notes for every "real" note. By cutting the distance between 2 frets in half, you double the number of notes on the neck! Why do we define a note the way we do? Why does a note have to be that exact spot on the fretboard when there are so many more possibilities? It's just one of those imponderable questions that will probably never be answered where (if ever) does the universe end? Can it really be ENDLESS? And why is there braille on a drive-thru ATM???
  6. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    A lot of it has to do with the mathematical proportions of the distances between the two points on a string that were discovered a long time ago. (See previous post.) These are questions that can be definitively answered, however. No real huge mysteries here. ;) I highly encourage you to look up some of the answers and think you'll be pretty impressed with what you find. Just start reading about Pythagoras and ratios and that should keep you entertained for a while!

    There is a _lot_ of math in the world around us. Learning about how some of the most simple and some of the most complex aspects of our universe can be broken down with simple mathematics is mind blowing! For a real eye opener, look up a little info on the "Golden Ratio." Neat stuff.
  7. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    It's good that you're thinking about these things, and starting to look at the physical and mathematical underpinnings of the bass and music. The things you bring up are common knowledge, so it's good that you're understanding them, but ahhhhhh, did you write this while high? I don't mean to disparage, it just reads that way. It's not so much a 'musical phenomenon' as it is... well, Western music. Read superduck's links, they'll blow your mind :)
  8. Funky Doctor

    Funky Doctor

    Aug 28, 2003
    I think it's cool that since we are talking about a log scale of base 2 (since one octave above whatever note you are talking about is double its frequency) of 12 divisions, then each note is the previous one multiplied by the 12th root of 2. Ultra cool. I guess.
  9. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    ARRGH! NO! NOT THE GOLDEN RATIO! The friggin' number that comes up in practically every natural physical phenomenon on Earth. Those crustaceans had it figured out way before we did...
  10. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Am I remembering right that it was something like 1.618:1?

    If that is wrong then I blame it on strange wiring in my brain that picked up on something important having '.618' in it because one of my son's classmates said "It's two times Pi...or...not." when everyone stared at him. I don't remember which part was funnier, that he had had an admitted math-geek moment...or that he had had one while being wrong.
  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    freaky fender ftw. :hyper:

  12. WHOA. Where did you come from John? You just went all ninja on us there.
  13. These are really two seperate things. Octaves make a lot of sense since they're when the frequency doubles. Using only twelve divisions is a lot more arbitrary. Anyone interested in this should swing by Tonalsoft and do some reading. And some listening, since there are music downloads as well.
    Are you thinking of Harry Partch?
  14. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    Michael Manring lists Harry Partch in his "now playing" thing in his BassPlayer interview last month. He also gives a quick description of his tuning system.

    Anyway there was a big thread on this a while back, I remember pretty adimantly arguing on behalf of my flawed understanding of the significance of the 12-tone system.
    I think it's important to note that the 5-tone Chinese system is the same as a justly tuned Western pentatonic scale (and they developed indepandantly of one another!). It's just the first five notes in the harmonic series, and our just-tuned 12-note octave are the first 12 tones in the harmonic series (I hope I'm not getting this wrong again).
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    As has been mentioned this is not the case and it's just the fact that our ears have got used to hearing this kind of scale, which is convenient for keyboard instruments!

    Japanese classical music uses different scales which used to be the preferred sound for them - but nowadays most younger Japanese people have heard so much "Western" music, that it now sounds consonant to them and the Japanese Classical music sounds dissonant and weird!

    I saw a performance by a Palestinian singer and she sang traditional tunes, which used micro-tonal scales - so they included notes "between" our concept of an octave - the band leader played clarinet solos emulating her singing by bending notes on his instrument .. :)
  16. wow, this is so interesting. I always thought that the 12 note system was universally accepted. sorry if I sounded dumb. You guys may not find this very interesting, but I find it fascinating. :bag:
  17. We all find it interesting, anyone really into music does
  18. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Wonder why music helps you in math? Because it IS MATH!
  19. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca

    phi hasn't appeared in a single one of my physics textbooks, fwiw.
  20. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    This thread is reminding me that the intonation of my E string needs to be adjusted.