Musical tuning

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In music, there are two common meanings for tuning:


Tuning practice

Tuning is the process of adjusting the pitch of one or many tones from musical instruments to establish typical intervals between these tones. Tuning is usually based on a fixed reference, such as A = 440 Hz. Out of tune refers to a pitch/tone that is either too high (sharp) or too low (flat) in relation to a given reference pitch. While an instrument might be in tune relative to its own range of notes, it may not be considered 'in tune' if it does not match A = 440 Hz (or whatever reference pitch one might be using). Some instruments become 'out of tune' with damage or time and have to be repaired.

Different methods of sound production require different methods of adjustment:

  • Tuning to a pitch with one's voice is called matching pitch and is the most basic skill learned in ear training.
  • Turning pegs to increase or decrease the tension on strings so as to control the pitch. Instruments such as the harp, piano, and harpsichord require a wrench to turn the tuning pegs, while others such as the violin can be tuned manually.
  • Modifying the length or width of the tube of a wind instrument, brass instrument, pipe, bell, or similar instrument to adjust the pitch.

Some instruments produce a sound which contains irregular overtones in the harmonic series, and are known as inharmonic. This makes their tuning complicated, and usually compromised. The tuning of bells, for instance, is extremely involved[citation needed].

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