Musical Tones in Nature

A brief background on musical tones in nature

To understand guitar theory, we first need to understand where music comes from. Everyday, we are surrounded by musical tones, which we comprehend, whether we consciously acknowledge it or not. Whether it's the sound of a car horn honking, baby crying, or a "C Note" on a piano, anything that is audible has a tone (or pitch) associated with it. For example, the pitch often referred to as "Concert A", vibrates 440 times per second.......or 440 Hertz. 440 Hertz is referred to as the "frequency". Frequency is how often a pitch vibrates per a specific unit of time. Lower pitches, like a bass drum, vibrate fewer times per second than higher pitches (snare drum). Another important tidbit to include here is that pitches repeat themselves when their frequency is doubled/or halved. Using that rationale, 880 Hertz, or 220 Hertz, is still "A". It should also be noted that different instruments can produce the same pitch. The difference in a trumpet and a piano playing the same pitch is referred to as "Timbre". Timbre is no doubt, audible, as we can tell the difference between a trumpet and a piano. It's roughly defined by a number of subjective audio properties that we won't delve into here for the sake of time.

In terms of classifying or naming pitches & tones, you can imagine how this could be a particularly arduous task, given the sheer amount of vibrations per second to choose from. Plus, the human ear can hardly tell the difference between 440 Hertz and 445 Hertz. So, is there a way to organize all of these pitches in a more usable manner? Thankfully, the answer is yes. Over the course of time, western based music has usefully morphed the frequency spectrum and subdivided it into 12 distinct notes, 12 equal intervals apart. Visually, you could replicate this on the piano by starting on "Middle C" Note and advancing to the next "C" Note by hitting all of the keys in between, including the black keys. It's not the perfect system, but it's definitely the best that's been developed thus far. It's distinct advantage is that it allows numerous instruments to be tuned to a universal formula. There are other musical systems still in use, like the 24 note system used in eastern music, but much of this music is string based and can be approximated even with 12 note/fret-scaled instruments.

Music is simply a collection of these aforementioned tones/notes packaged together in a specific order, almost like an audible recipe.