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August 1967 Electronics World[Table of Contents] People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history of early electronics. Electronics World was published from May 1959 through December 1971. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged. See all Electronics World articles.
It's easy enough these days to find sound frequency charts for instruments on the Internet, but it wasn't always that way. Back in 1967, you either had to own a book with the information or go to the library and borrow one. Another option was to subscribe to Electronics World. It, along with many of the electronics magazines, published a lot of articles on electronic instruments, which were just coming of age then. Having a chart handy was a big convenience.
The chart shown below indicates the audible frequency range of a variety of musical instruments. In most cases, the range indicates not only the instrument's fundamental frequency, but certain overtones that create the distinctive character of the instrument. In the case of the piano, note that the instrument keyboard goes to a lower fundamental frequency than is shown by the frequency range indicated near the top of the chart. This is because the output at the lower piano notes are mainly harmonic in nature.
Not shown on the chart are the high-frequency noises that accompany many instruments to produce a certain amount of "color", i.e., reed noise in the woodwinds, bowing noises in the stringed instruments, and key clicks and thumps of the piano and percussion instruments, etc.