1 – Introduction

1 – Introduction

Learning music is fun. I started one year ago, at the age of 65, when I bought my first musical instrument – an ukulele. Have been trying to understand the theory of music since then. What I have picked up about music is mainly by going through websites. Articles on websites focus on this or that aspects of music and so it is difficult to get a good overview of music. These twelve posts (see index at the bottom of this page) are a summary of what I learnt over the last one year. I have looked at both Western music systems and Indian music systems (Hindustani and Carnatic). The content here will constantly undergo changes as I learn more and learn newer concepts. The objective here is to help new music enthusiasts understand some of the fundamental concepts of music.

[A word of caution. There could be mistakes owing to my not understanding some concepts properly. If readers are kind enough to point them out, I will correct them. The material here is being reviewed by some experts. As I get feedback from them, I will keep updating the content.]

What is music?

Music is a combination of sounds designed to sound pleasing to the ear. Music creates an atmosphere that affects your mood. It gives many people an emotional experience that cannot be described. People also talk of having devotional and spiritual experiences when they listen to certain types of music.

The hearing range of a normal, young human is between 20 Hz and 20000 Hz. [Discernment in the upper frequencies reduces with age]. It is possible to hear any sound frequency in this range. But note that the human ear can recognise these sound frequencies only at a certain decibel range (0 to 130 Db). Anything louder or softer than this range cannot be detected. Difference in frequencies that can be detected by a good, practised human ear is around ½ percent That is, a frequency of 440 Hz can be distinguished from a frequency of 442.2 Hz as a different note, or a frequency of 880 Hz can be distinguished from a frequency of 884.4 Hz etc.). This is the limit of human ear for differentiation between frequencies.

An octave is defined as the range between one frequency and double that frequency. So, 220 Hz to 440 Hz is an octave, so is 440 Hz to 880 Hz, and so is 880 Hz to 1760 Hz. The normal range of frequencies used in the musical world is divided into 10 octaves (16.35 Hz to 16 700 Hz)

Visit the following pages for notes on particular elements of music.

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