hearing notes that I'm not playing

February 21, 2018, 8:23 AM · wasn't sure which category to put this one in.
anyway, I was playing on the e string yesterday (just in third position, nothing fancy) and I could very clearly hear the notes I was playing but an octave lower. I have heard about things similar to this happening but have never experienced it myself and was curious about what causes it and how this could be the first time I've noticed it despite having played on the e string thousands of times before

Replies (12)

February 21, 2018, 8:53 AM · Does this happen
- when playing the same notes on the A-string?
- if the E -string is tuned a semitone, then a whole lower; or a semitone higher?
- when on of the other strings is de-tuned?
- when pressing on the tailpiece with your chin?
- with a mute?

It sounds like some loose glue or an opening seam, or a loose tuner screw.

February 21, 2018, 9:29 AM · -I haven't tried that
-the e string and others were in tune. it might have changed while I was practicing but if it did it was an imperceptible amount
-it's possible that I could have been pressing slightly on the tailpiece because I've been having troubles with my shoulder rest but I still kind of doubt it
-I was using a mute
February 21, 2018, 11:25 AM · Do you have a guitar or other string instrument sitting in the same room? If tuned to the same frequency, their string will resonate - one of the tricks dealers use to sell you a violin!
February 21, 2018, 11:37 AM · I do, but the guitar has been there for the four years that I've been playing and I've never noticed this before. I'm also pretty certain that the source of the lower note was from my violin
February 21, 2018, 12:39 PM · Anna, you could look up "tartini tones", and decide whether or not this might be applicable.
February 21, 2018, 12:40 PM · Rocky has a valid point. I have a bunch of acoustic guitars on stands in my practice space. I often hear them resonate when I practice.

................or it could be those sparks coming from your violin causing the problem.

February 21, 2018, 1:31 PM · Anna, I was not clear: my 5 questions were meant to be 5 "tests", rather than five possible solutions.

February 21, 2018, 2:00 PM · if it was a combination tone, wouldn't that be only possible if I was playing a double stop?
Edited: February 21, 2018, 2:56 PM · Anna, every note on a violin involves combination tones, not only from the multiple tones of the string itself, but also from the multiple tones of the body and air resonances of that thing the strings are attached to.

An interesting example is that a violin emits almost no sound below a C natural. Yet, we still "hear" those lower tones, from our brains synthesizing what we would expect that tone to be, based on the pattern of the higher harmonics present.

Yup, play an open G on your violin, and if you think you hear a note around 196 hz, it's mostly your imagination, or an attempt by the brain to fill in the missing information.

Psychoacoustics can be a fascinating field to delve into. Just as we don't always see what we think we are seeing, we don't always hear what we think we are hearing.

Edited: February 23, 2018, 5:36 AM · Yes, and even in double-stops, these "Tartini" tones are produced in our ear itself, or in a microphone, circuit or speaker, but not in the space where we play! It's not just the psychological wishful thinking that David outlines, but a form of physical distortion of the combined tones.

It's the "reconstructed fundamentals" which allow us to hear low notes on a radio or computer speaker physically too small to radiate them.

Edited: February 23, 2018, 6:51 AM · Not hearing notes you are playing - the sub-middle C notes on the violin that aren't really there. You can check this out for yourself by playing the first half dozen notes on the G string fairly strongly, and recording the sound with an app that can display a spectrogram and spectrum analysis on playback. You don't need anything exotic for this - the free Audacity app does it very nicely.

I tried it out on my Jay Haide - the 196Hz G was non-existent on-screen. However, on my 18th c violin (by A. Non) there was an observable on-screen signal at the open G 196Hz frequency, but whether it is identifiably audible is quite another matter. That unexpected result I put down to the old violin being slightly oversize - it is 14-1/4" instead of the standard 14", the other dimensions are pro rata bigger, so there is a larger internal volume. It has always had a strong presence at the lower end - the rest isn't bad either.
February 23, 2018, 7:27 AM · The sound post from my son's violin fell off once. It resulted that some note he played sounded octave lower as well. I have checked on our tuner.
It were F# and B on the E string, that gave the other F# and B of lower octave.

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