MUSIC THEORY – Inharmonicity and Octave Stretching03:35


MUSIC THEORY – Inharmonicity and Octave Stretching

by | Nov 22, 2017 | MUSIC THEORY, PIANO

MUSIC THEORY – Inharmonicity and Octave Stretching

In this music theory animated tutorial made by Walk That Bass, you are going to learn what “inharmonicity” is.

“In theory, all overtones are just whole number multiples of the fundamental frequency. However, for this to be the case strings have to be perfectly flexible, which they are not. They are made out of stiff metal which doesn’t quite bend perfectly. So in reality, there may be overtones which are not whole number multiples of the fundamental. This is called: inharmonicity.

The shorter, thicker and looser a string is, the more inharmonicity it exhibits – precisely because shorter and thicker strings cannot bend as easily. And unfortunately, the lower strings on an upright piano are short, think and loose – which means they are very inharmonious. This inharmonicity contributes to the richness of the sound of a piano, but it also creates some dissonance when you play a low note on an upright piano. And it’s partly the reason why recreating the sound of an acoustic piano on a digital piano is quite difficult. It’s not as simple as just creating an fundamental frequency and adding some overtone.

Now, inharmonicity caused by the stiffness of the strings also has another interesting feature. The inharmonic overtones tend to be a little bit too high. The 16th overtone is about a semitone higher than it should technically be. And the 50th overtone is about a Perfect 5th higher than it should technically be. This is one of the reason that you cannot tune a piano. If you tune two notes on the piano to a perfect octave, that is, so the fundamental frequencies are a ratio of 2/1, then because of this inharmonicity, the notes will sound out of tune. Which is an interesting thing to think about. If a piano is perfectly in tune, it is actually out of tune.”

(Credit : Walk That Bass)


A really interesting subject with crystal-clear exaplanations from our friend Walk That Bass. Once again, I recommend it !

Level : Advanced Beginner / Intermediate

  • MUSIC THEORY – Inharmonicity and Octave Stretching
  • Tutorial Duration = 3min34sec    

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