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Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 00:30:15 EDT
Subject: Re: RE: How low can we go - long

In a message dated 10/18/99 4:16:58 AM, writes:

<< As far as I know, pitch definition occurs in a harmonic structure. Pure
tones below 100Hz are hard to pin down. I have seen studies of reeds
which show the fundamental is actually suppressed by the natural
instrument acoustics, presumably to get more power to the harmonics. The
harmonic structure provides the perception of the pitch at the suppressed
fundamental, through a psychoacoustic process called "fundamental
reconstruction". >>


In my younger days I worked in a laboratory where equipment intended to be
launched into space, was tested to find if it could withstand the vibration
of the launch environment.  The equipment was mounted on a "shake table" that
worked somewhat like a gigantic dynamic loudspeaker.  A sinusoidal vibration
frequency was swept over a range that went down to around 5 Hz.

What I observed was that my hearing of musical tones would cut off at around
16 Hz.  The sensation of the vibration went well below that, but I couldn't
recognize that sensation as a tone.  In other words, my cut-off point
appeared to be psychological rather than physical.  I could sense it in my
hearing, but as a "funny feeling" rather than as a musical note.

What I was exposed to was a pure acoustical sine wave with no higher
harmonics unless something came loose.  It is in this light that I say the
sounds you refer to as a "harmonic structure", or sounds from a process of
"fundamental reconstruction", are NOT the same as a pure single-frequency
sound at the lowest frequency.

Consider the sound of two high-pitched instruments that are out of tune.  You
can probably "hear" the sensation of a beat note of a fraction of a Hz, but
you don't perceive it as a distinctly separate note unless the pitch
difference is somewhat higher.  Perhaps 15 to 20 Hz?

Fred McKenzie

Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 00:47:22 EDT
Subject: Re: RE: Low organ notes and brass pedals

In a message dated 10/18/99 4:27:05 AM, writes:

<< Does anyone have a www address for a list of pitch frequencies, or a 'ready
reckoner' for one?


Starting at A=440 Hz, you can divide by two to get to lower octaves.  Within
the octave, semitones differ by the 12th root of two (1.059463094), so that
for a change of 12 semitones, there is an octave change.  I believe that
A=440 Hz is the A above middle C on the piano.

Fred McKenzie

From: "Tom Izzo" <>
Subject: Re: RE: Low organ notes and brass pedals
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 01:18:01 -0500

> A=440 Hz is the A above middle C on the piano.
Yes, that is correct.
The A just below would be 220, 1st space Bass Clef would be 110, the next
lower 55 & the lowest A on the piano would be 27.5 assuming of course a
tuned piano (to the 440).



From: Francis Firth <>
Subject: Low Tubas
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 09:00:29 +0100

According to Clifford Bevan's book The Tuba Family the subcontrabass tuba
made for Sousa's band was possibly made by Boosey for Sousa between1896-1898
and was pitched in CCC.
On p. 123 of his book Bevan gives a table of giant tubas.
Sax himself devised 2 giant tubas. There is an EEEb made for the 1851Paris
Exhibition of 1851 and, according to Wally Horwood in his book Adolphe Sax
on page 120 of which he shows a photograph whose source he does not cite of
the EEEb Saxhorn Bourdon, shown also in 1855. This was 165 cm. high. = 5 ft.).
To illustrate the confusion surrounding this Baines (Brass Instruments
and their History) writes that it was pitched in FFF and (I think as I do
not have the book in front of me) mentions an EEEb made by Besson.In 1855
for the Paris Exhibition Sax made a BBBb Saxhorn Bourdon around 275 cm tall
(9ft) which is the instrument illustrated (but not with a photograph this
time!) on p. 111 of Horwood.

Horwood cites Etienne Gilson as writing in 1939 of a subcontrabass in BBBb
being in the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris. However, as this was
supposed to be only 6 feet high (c. 195 cm.) it could clearly not have been
the instrument exhibited in 1855 unless Gilson got it wrong. Does anyone
know if this instrument, if it ever existed indeed, is still to be found in
Bevan does not list the Harvard of Carl Fischer instruments, the former of
which was written about in an early issue of Tuba Journal, of the instrument
which Hoffnung played. However, he does list an anonymous instrument of 1893
208 cm (nearly 7 ft.) high and a CCC instrument by Cerveny 155 cm. (just
over 5 ft.) high from 1873.
I, too, have read about the instrument owned in South Africa but Guiness
never gives any real details and just repeats this entry from year to year.
Perhaps Arnold Myers knows some more about this subject?

Francis Firth

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