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#632813 - 05/24/02 04:49 PM frequence and wave length of lowest C
tvpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 158
Loc: Austin, TX
I search this site
http://www.sfu.ca/sonic-studio/handbook/Wavelength.html
and they said that the lowest C on piano is 32.7 Hz and wave length is 34 feet 6 inches.
If they are correct, can a piano string which its length is much less than 34 feet produce a sound at 32.7 Hz?.

Thanks,
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tvpiano

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#632814 - 05/24/02 07:24 PM Re: frequence and wave length of lowest C
SamLewisPiano.com Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/01
Posts: 635
Loc: WHITE BLUFF (Nashville area) T...
TV- thats why they wrap 'em. Because a string that long is not practical, the strings are made ever thicker as the pitch goes lower, to produce those low pitches. And this is where all the lovely "pollution", aka "inharmonicity" comes from. The smaller the piano, the thicker we need the strings, and the more garbage is introduced into the sound we hear............Sam
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Since 1975; Full-time piano tuner/tech in Nashville;
Lacquer and polyester specialist.

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#632815 - 05/24/02 09:17 PM Re: frequence and wave length of lowest C
Marquis de Posa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/01/02
Posts: 157
Loc: New York
 Quote:
Originally posted by tvpiano:
I search this site
http://www.sfu.ca/sonic-studio/handbook/Wavelength.html
and they said that the lowest C on piano is 32.7 Hz and wave length is 34 feet 6 inches.
If they are correct, can a piano string which its length is much less than 34 feet produce a sound at 32.7 Hz?.

Thanks,[/b]
Wavelength has little to do with the length of the piano string required to produce the sound at 32.7 Hz. Wavelength is related to frequency by the following formula:

velocity of sound = wavelength x frequency

The velocity of sound in air is about 343 m/sec. They obtained the wavelength of 34 feet 6 inches through this equation; the wavelength equals the velocity of sound divided by frequency. This produces an answer of about 10.5 m for the wavelength, which in turn translates to about 34 feet 6 inches.

The lower the frequency of the sound, the longer the string required to produce it and the longer the wavelength. So frequency is inversely proportional to the length L of the string:

L1/L2 = f2/f1

This is assuming that all the strings of the piano have the same mass per unit length. The highest key on the piano has a frequency about 150 times the frequency of the lowest key. So if we let f2 equal the frequency of the highest key and f1 equal the frequency of the lowest key, we have f2/f1 = 150, which means L1/L2 = 150. In other words, the string for the lowest key needs to be 150 times the length of the string for the highest key assuming all the strings were of the same mass per unit length. That means if the string for the highest key were 5 cm, the string for the lowest key would be 7.5 m, which translates to about 25 ft. In order to avoid making pianos this long, the lower strings are made more dense. The velocity of the sound produced from a piano string is related to the tension of the string and the mass per unit length:

velocity = square root (tension/mass per unit length)

So if a string is given a higher mass per unit length, the velocity of the sound produced would be lower, which would decrease the frequency for a particular wavelength.

The wavelength produced by a string of length L is usually fixed; piano strings produce waves that are of fundamental or first harmonic frequency, which means the wavelength is 2L.

This is from my physics notes; I took notes from Giancoli's physics textbook.

Sorry if this is a bit difficult to understand.

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#632816 - 05/25/02 02:04 PM Re: frequence and wave length of lowest C
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3914
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
An excellent explanation (although, with a PhD in biophysics, I probably find it easier to read than the ordinary bear). Our job here, though, is to give tvpiano[/b] an intuitive understanding that you don't need a physical object as big as a sound wavelength to produce that sound.

Take a speaker system, for example. A 15-inch woofer cranks out a 32 Hz C which is perfectly audible. If it were limited to producing sounds of its own size or smaller, it wouldn't begin to speak until a point above standard A, definitely in the upper portion of the range of most such speakers, if not beyond it.
_________________________
There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians

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#632817 - 05/28/02 02:22 PM Re: frequence and wave length of lowest C
tvpiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/08/02
Posts: 158
Loc: Austin, TX
Thank you all for the super replies, I guess I didn't know mass is the big factor here!
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tvpiano

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