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The Sound of a Guitar (from wickipedia)


In music, the fundamental is the musical pitch of a note that is perceived as the lowest partial present. The fundamental may be created by vibration over the full length of a string or air column, or a higher harmonic chosen by the player. The fundamental is one of the harmonics. A harmonic is any member of the harmonic series, an ideal set of frequencies that are positive integer multiples of a common fundamental frequency. The reason a fundamental is also considered a harmonic is because it is 1 times itself. [9]

The fundamental is the frequency at which the entire wave vibrates. Overtones are other sinusoidal components present at frequencies above the fundamental. All of the frequency components that make up the total waveform, including the fundamental and the overtones, are called partials. Together they form the harmonic series. Overtones which are perfect integer multiples of the fundamental are called harmonics. When an overtone is near to being harmonic, but not exact, it is sometimes called a harmonic partial, although they are often referred to simply as harmonics. Sometimes overtones are created that are not anywhere near a harmonic, and are just called partials or inharmonic overtones.

The fundamental frequency is considered the first harmonic and the first partial. The numbering of the partials and harmonics is then usually the same; the second partial is the second harmonic, etc. But if there are inharmonic partials, the numbering no longer coincides. Overtones are numbered as they appear above the fundamental. So strictly speaking, the first overtone is the second partial (and usually the second harmonic). As this can result in confusion, only harmonics are usually referred to by their numbers, and overtones and partials are described by their relationships to those harmonics.


For more details on this topic, see Fourier transform.
Harmonic spectra.

The richness of a sound or note a musical instrument produces is sometimes described in terms of a sum of a number of distinct frequencies. The lowest frequency is called the fundamental frequency, and the pitch it produces is used to name the note, but the fundamental frequency is not always the dominant frequency. The dominant frequency is the frequency that is most heard, and it is always a multiple of the fundamental frequency. For example, the dominant frequency for the transverse flute is double the fundamental frequency. Other significant frequencies are called overtones of the fundamental frequency, which may include harmonics and partials. Harmonics are whole number multiples of the fundamental frequency, such as ×2, ×3, ×4, etc. Partials are other overtones. There are also sometimes subharmonics at whole numberdivisions of the fundamental frequency.

When the tuning note in an orchestra or concert band is played, the sound is a combination of 440 Hz, 880 Hz, 1320 Hz, 1760 Hz and so on. Each instrument in the orchestra or concert band produces a different combination of these frequencies, as well as harmonics and overtones. The sound waves of the different frequencies overlap and combine, and the balance of these amplitudes is a major factor in the characteristic sound of each instrument.


Loudness is the characteristic of a sound that is primarily a psychological correlate of physical strength (amplitude). More formally, it is defined as "that attribute of auditory sensation in terms of which sounds can be ordered on a scale extending from quiet to loud".[1]

Loudness, a subjective measure, is often confused with objective measures of sound strength such as sound pressure, sound pressure level      (in decibels), sound intensity or sound power. Filters such as A-weighting attempt to adjust sound measurements to correspond to loudness as perceived by the typical human. However, loudness perception is a much more complex process than A-weighting.[2]

Loudness is also affected by parameters other than sound pressure, including frequency, bandwidth and duration.[2]

The perception of loudness is related to both the sound pressure level (SPL) and duration of a sound. The human auditory system averages the effects of SPL over a 600–1000 ms interval.[citation needed] A sound of constant SPL will be perceived to increase in loudness as samples of duration 20, 50, 100, 200 ms are heard, up to a duration of about 1 second at which point the perception of loudness will stabilize. For sounds of duration greater than 1 second, the moment-by-moment perception of loudness will be related to the average loudness during the preceding 600–1000 ms.

In music, timbre (/ˈtæmbər/ tam-bər or /ˈtɪmbər/ tim-bər) also known as tone color or tone quality from psychoacoustics, is the quality of a musical note, sound, or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the perception of timbre include spectrum and envelope.

In simple terms, timbre is what makes a particular musical sound different from another, even when they have the same pitch and loudness. For instance, it is the difference between a guitar and a piano playing the same note at the same loudness. Experienced musicians are able to distinguish between different instruments of the same type based on their varied timbres, even if those instruments are playing notes at the samepitch and loudness.

Tone quality and color are synonyms for timbre, as well as the "texture attributed to a single instrument". Hermann von Helmholtz used the German Klangfarbe (tone color), and John Tyndall proposed an English translation, clangtint. But both terms were disapproved of by Alexander Ellis, who also discredits register and color for their pre-existing English meanings (Erickson 1975, 7).

The sound of a musical instrument may be described with such words as bright, dark, warm, harsh, and other terms. There are also colors of noise, such as pink and white.

In visual representations of sound, timbre corresponds to the shape of the image (Abbado 1988, 3).

What are the charastics of an outstanding guitar?  The finest quality instruments take a top level player to bring out the subtilities and push its capabilities.  Julian Bream played the Hauser owned by Segovia and said this "Segovias instrument was very lightly made.  The wood thicknesses, were exceptionally thin.  With Hauser, everything was just pared down to its absolute minimum.  You can imagine that a guitar must have a lot of strength to hold itself  together; so Hauser with a typically German scientific approach, managed to find how to pare away the wood keeping only enough to keep the instrument strong...in the right places.  The instrument is so delicate that you almost feel it will explode if you play a loud chord. It's a false assumption that the bigger or heavier the instrument, the louder it will sound.,  In fact, the greatest guitar I ever played was Segovia's Hauser....the instrument itself was phenomenally beautiful.



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