Acoustics & Sound For Musicians - Online Book

The Theory Of Sound Which Constitutes The Physical Basis Of The Art Of Music.

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60                LIMITS OF MUSICAL SOUNDS. [II. § 29.
vibrations per second that we get a satisfactory musical sound. The limit which bars the scale of pitch in the opposite direction varies greatly in position with different persons; some hearing with the utmost distinctness a shrill sound which others declare to have for them no existence. A cleverly-planned little instrument called Gallon's whistle, sold by philosophical instrument makers, the note of which can be made to vary at pleasure within certain limits, brings out these differences of indi­vidual perception in a striking manner.
Sounds well within the limit of general audi­bility are, if above a certain degree of acuteness, painful to the ear, and therefore unfit for musical pur­poses. The highest note of the piccolo, the shrillest sound heard in the orchestra, makes 4,752 vibrations per second*. This we may regard as constituting a practical superior limit to the scale of pitch at the disposal of musical art. The extreme range attain­able by exceptional human voices, from the deepest note of a bass to the highest of a soprano, lies, roughly speaking, between 50 and 1,500 vibrations per second. Ordinary chorus voices range from 100 to 900 or 1,000 vibrations per second.
The power of discriminating minute differences of pitch varies greatly with the acuteness of percep-
* Takiug 264 vibrations for middle-C (German pitch).
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