Standard tuning

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In music, standard tuning refers to the typical tuning of a string instrument. This notion is contrary to that of scordatura, i.e. an alternate tuning designated to modify either the timbre or technical capabilities of the desired instrument.

Musical tuning umbrella term for the act of tuning an instrument and a system of pitches

In music, there are two common meanings for tuning:

String instrument musical instrument that generates tones by one or more strings stretched between two points

String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when the performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.

Scordatura[skordaˈtuːra], is a tuning of a stringed instrument different from the normal, standard tuning. It typically attempts to allow special effects or unusual chords or timbre, or to make certain passages easier to play. It is common to notate the finger position as if played in regular tuning, while the actual pitch resulting is altered. When all the strings are tuned by the same interval up or down, as in the case of the viola in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, the part is transposed as a whole.


Violin family

The most popular bowed strings used nowadays belong to the violin family; together with their respective standard tunings, they are:

Violin family class of stringed instruments

The violin family of musical instruments was developed in Italy in the 16th century. At the time the name of this family of instruments was viole da braccio which was used to distinguish them from the viol family. The standard modern violin family consists of the violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

Perfect fifth musical interval

In music theory, a perfect fifth is the musical interval corresponding to a pair of pitches with a frequency ratio of 3:2, or very nearly so.

Viola bowed string instrument

The viola (; Italian pronunciation: [ˈvjɔːla]) is a string instrument that is bowed or played with varying techniques. It is slightly larger than a violin and has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle or alto voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth above) and the cello (which is tuned an octave below). The strings from low to high are typically tuned to C3, G3, D4, and A4.

Cello musical instrument

The cello ( CHEL-oh; plural cellos or celli) or violoncello ( VY-ə-lən-CHEL-oh; Italian pronunciation: [vjolonˈtʃɛllo]) is a string instrument. It is played by bowing or plucking its four strings, which are usually tuned in perfect fifths an octave lower than the viola: from low to high, C2, G2, D3 and A3. It is the bass member of the violin family, which also includes the violin, viola and the double bass, which doubles the bass line an octave lower than the cello in much of the orchestral repertoire. After the double bass, it is the second-largest and second lowest (in pitch) bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra. The cello is used as a solo instrument, as well as in chamber music ensembles (e.g., string quartet), string orchestras, as a member of the string section of symphony orchestras, most modern Chinese orchestras, and some types of rock bands.

Viol family

The double bass is properly the contrabass member of the viol family. Its smaller members are tuned in ascending fourths, with a major third in the middle, as follows:

A more recent family is the violin octet, which also features a standardized tuning system (see page).

The violin octet is a family of stringed instruments developed in the 20th century primarily under the direction of the American luthier Carleen Hutchins. Each instrument is based directly on the traditional violin and shares its acoustical properties, with the goal of a richer and more homogeneous sound. Unlike the standard modern stringed instruments, the main resonance of the body of the violin octet instrument is at a pitch near the two middle open strings, giving the instruments a more balanced, clearer sound.

Guitar family

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Guitar standard tuning.
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Guitars and bass guitars have more standard tunings, depending on the number of strings an instrument has.


Other plucked string instruments and their respective standard tunings include:

See also

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Bass guitar Electric bass instrument

The bass guitar is a plucked string instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and four to six strings or courses.

Double bass Acoustic stringed instrument of the violin family

The double bass, or simply the bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra.

Guitar fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

Contrabass refers to several musical instruments of very low pitch—generally one octave below bass register instruments. While the term most commonly refers to the double bass, many other instruments in the contrabass register exist.

Seven-string guitar musical instrument

The seven-string guitar adds one additional string to the more common six-string guitar, commonly used to extend the bass range or also to extend the treble range.

Eight-string guitar

An eight-string guitar is a guitar with two more strings than the usual six, or one more than the Russian guitar's seven. Eight-string guitars are less common than six- and seven-string guitars, but they are used by a few classical, jazz, and metal guitarists. The eight-string guitar allows a wider tonal range, or non-standard tunings, or both.

Guitar chord

In music, a guitar chord is a set of notes played on a guitar. A chord's notes are often played simultaneously, but they can be played sequentially in an arpeggio. The implementation of guitar chords depends on the guitar tuning. Most guitars used in popular music have six strings with the "standard" tuning of the Spanish classical guitar, namely E-A-D-G-B-E' ; in standard tuning, the intervals present among adjacent strings are perfect fourths except for the major third (G,B). Standard tuning requires four chord-shapes for the major triads.

Guitar tunings

Guitar tunings assign pitches to the open strings of guitars, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and classical guitars. Tunings are described by the particular pitches denoted by notes in Western music. By convention, the notes are ordered from lowest-pitched string to highest-pitched.

Octobass large and rare string instrument

The octobass is an extremely large and rare bowed string instrument that was first built around 1850 in Paris by the French luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (1798–1875). It has three strings and is essentially a larger version of the double bass. Because of the extreme fingerboard length and string thickness, the musician plays it using a system of levers and pedals. It has never been produced on a large scale or used much by composers. In addition to the Paris instrument, octobasses exist in the collections of the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Violone term referring to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family

The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument. In modern parlance, one usually tries to clarify the 'type' of violone by adding a qualifier based on the tuning or on geography, or by using other terms that have a more precise connotation. The term violone may be used correctly to describe many different instruments, yet distinguishing among these types can be difficult, especially for those not familiar with the historical instruments of the viol and violin families and their respective variations in tuning.

An extended-range bass is an electric bass guitar with a wider frequency range than a standard-tuned four-string bass guitar.

Octave mandolin

The octave mandolin is a fretted string instrument with four pairs of strings tuned in fifths, G, D, A, E, an octave below a mandolin. It is larger than the mandola, but smaller than the mandocello and its construction is similar to other instruments in the mandolin family. Usually the courses are all unison pairs but the lower two may sometimes be strung as octave pairs with the higher-pitched octave string on top so that it is hit before the thicker lower-pitched string. Alternate tunings of G, D, A, D and A, D, A, D are often employed by Celtic musicians.

Violin Concerto (Ligeti) concerto by György Ligeti

The Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by György Ligeti is a violin concerto written for and dedicated to the violinist Saschko Gawriloff. A performance of the work lasts about 28 minutes.

All fourths tuning

Among alternative tunings for the guitar, all-fourths tuning is a regular tuning. In contrast, the standard tuning has one irregularity—a major third between the third and second strings—while having perfect fourths between the other successive strings. The standard tuning's irregular major-third is replaced by a perfect fourth in all-fourths tuning, which has the open notes E2-A2-D3-G3-C4-F4.

Major thirds tuning

Among alternative tunings for guitar, a major-thirds tuning is a regular tuning in which each interval between successive open strings is a major third. Other names for major-thirds tuning include major-third tuning, M3 tuning, all-thirds tuning, and augmented tuning. By definition, a major-third interval separates two notes that differ by exactly four semitones.

Regular tuning

Among alternative guitar-tunings, regular tunings have equal musical intervals between the paired notes of their successive open strings.