OctavesI don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. - Bill Cosby
spc Bd 1 Bd 3
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Law of Octaves

If a frequency is out of range, a frequency of a different octave can cause the same effect.

The Law of Octaves states that in a frequency sense, we can use an octave of a frequency to the same effect as the frequency itself.

An octave is a doubling or halving of a frequency. Doubling would involve going up to the next higher octave while halving involves coming down an octave.

So, if we have "A" at 440 Hz, the next higher octave would represent "A" at 880 Hz. The next lower "A" is at 220 Hz.

The Law of Octaves then allows us to shift frequencies up or down by factors of 2 and achieve the same effect.

In other words if we have a frequency that is out of range of a particular system, we can play a frequency that is an octave of that frequency to obtain the same feel or effect as from the original frequency.

Scientific Basis

The concepts of harmonics, resonance and the musical aspect of the Law of Octaves are all fundamental to the proof of the law.


BioWaves has developed some beautiful charts showing the relationship between color and sound in its Scientific Color Chart. In these charts, BioWaves researched the color spectrum and the color of each frequency of light. By repeatedly stepping down the freuqency of lights by octaves, we eventually reached the musical scale, where, for example, we found blue to correspond with D#.



Longitudinal Wavelength Sound Waves Pitch and Frequency Speed of Sound Doppler Effect Sound Intensity and Decibels Sound Wave Interference Beat Frequencies Binaural Beat Frequencies Sound Resonance and Natural Resonant Frequency Natural Resonance Quality (Q) Forced Vibration Frequency Entrainment Vibrational Modes Standing Waves Law of Octaves Psychoacoustics Tacoma Narrows Bridge Schumann Resonance Animal BioAcoustics More on Sound


Law Of Octaves Sound Harmonics Western Musical Chords Musical Scales Musical Intervals Musical Mathematical Terminology Music of the Spheres Fibonacci Sequence Circle of Fifths Pythagorean Comma


Drum Vibrational Modes


Aristotle Copernicus Einstein Fibonacci Hermann von Helmholtz Kepler Sir Isaac Newton Max Planck Ptolemy Pythagoras Thomas Young
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Understanding the Physics of Sound
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