I'm the bass in our high school a cappella group. Recently we had a performance in our auditorium, and I am almost certain I heard the pitch an octave lower than I was singing. I was singing E3 (164 Hz), and I'm sure I heard E2 (82 Hz).

We were singing with no audio equipment, so it couldn't have been any effects processors.

Do you folks have any idea what I could have experienced?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_fundamental $\endgroup$
    – Sklivvz
    Jan 20 '14 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Sklivvz, if I sang 164Hz, then I also sang harmonics at 328Hz, 492Hz, etc. Although some of those are the harmonics of 82Hz, the harmonics of 82Hz also have 246Hz, 410Hz, 574Hz, (82*primes). Wouldn't my brain have been smart enough to realize the a bunch of the harmonics for 82Hz were missing? $\endgroup$ Jan 20 '14 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ If you are only hearing the higher harmonics of 164 Hz, then I don't think your brain will interpret it as anything lower than the fundamental because of the missing fundamental effect. Sklivvz might be thinking that something was making noise at 3*82Hz. Then your brain interpret the niose as 82Hz. $\endgroup$ Jan 20 '14 at 2:14

Kevin, you say you were singing in an a capella group. I presume you were not ALL singing YOUR bass line. So somebody was singing above you in some harmonious chord, and in your ear, you heard the beat frequency between YOUR bass voice, and probably the baritone voice, who was singing at 1.5 times your 164 Hz. Is that a "fifth" above you? I've forgotten more music, than I ever learned.

But you weren't "hearing voices" ; you actually heard what you thought you heard. Pipe organists often play two pedal notes a fifth apart to simulate the octave below, when they don't have that pipe, and want the sound of it.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.