oboe tone (at)

Subject: oboe tone
Date:    Tue, 25 Nov 1997 18:46:55 -0500

Re question from Punita Singh: Why use an oboe to tune the orchestra? The 440-Hz oboe tone has much of its spectral strength in harmonics 3, 4, and 5. Therefore, when other instruments tune to the oboe tone, their relatively strong fundamentals do not mask it badly. Harmonics 3, 4, and 5 are consecutive, leading to a strong pitch at the fundamental (which is not missing in any case). These harmonics are in the spectral dominance region and convey pitch well. The playing frequency of the oboe may be a good reference because it is unusually stable. That means that the musician is less able to bend the note than with other winds. Normally, musical acousticians say that the ability to bend the frequency depends on the mass of the primary vibrator. The lips of the brass instrument player are heavier than a clarinet reed, and the double reed of the oboe is particularly light. Therefore, the playing frequency of the oboe is strongly determined by the air column in the instrument body. I hautbois you find this answer useful. Best, Bill

This message came from the mail archive
maintained by:
DAn Ellis <dpwe@ee.columbia.edu>
Electrical Engineering Dept., Columbia University