Category Archives: Piano

More Math of Music II – Frequency

I must confess that I’m a geek, and I love numbers. So much so that in a recent post I talked to you about the Math of Music – It’s A Numbers Game. In it I’ve come to realize that there’s a whole lot more to music than just stringing notes together. There’s a whole lot more that the music represents. So let’s dig into some of the more interesting numbers that surround music including some of your favorite instruments.

There are 88 Keys on a piano keyboard.
There are 3 valves on a trumpet.
There are usually 21-24 frets on a guitar.
The bass guitar and the ukulele USUALLY have 4 strings.
The typical guitar USUALLY will have 6 strings but can have more.

There are so many more numbers that are associate with music and here’s another interesting fact and I mentioned it in my previous post called “The Math of Music – It’s a numbers game.” One of the interesting things is that Octaves are exactly a 1:2 ratio in terms of the frequency or the pitch of the notes measured in Hertz. For example, the A above Middle C is 440 Hz. The A above it is 880 Hz, and the A below Middle C is 220 Hz.

The A above Middle C, A440 is the note that has become the standard pitch for tuning orchestra and other musical instruments in the United States and the United Kingdom and it’s territories. This standard was adopted by the International Organization for Standards in 1955 as reported by Wikipedia, and this was reaffirmed again in 1975. Fascinating!

While looking into this deeper on the Music Masterworks Website – Where Math Meets Music – I found this chart below that describes in detail what the ratios are between the notes in terms of the frequency in broad terms. The math also shows how some notes help to form consonant tones between each other.  For example G is 1.5 times the frequency of C and is a perfect 5th above where as E is 1.25 times C and is a Major 3rd above C.

Similarly, the ratio from C to C# is 18/17th and the sound waves don’t really meet up. So when they are played simultaneously their frequencies clash (in a manner of speaking) and they sound dissonant.

Note Perfect Ratio to C Actual Ratio to C Ratio off by Frequency in Hz
Middle C 261.6
D 9/8 or 1.125 1.1224 0.0026 293.7
E 5/4 or 1.25 1.2599 0.0099 329.6
F 4/3 or 1.333… 1.3348 0.0015 349.2
G 3/2 or 1.5 1.4983 0.0017 392.0
A 5/3 or 1.666… 1.6818 0.0152 440.0
B 17/9 or 1.888… 1.8877 0.0003 493.9

So that’s why when you play the C Major Chord with C-E-G in it you get a sound that’s pleasing to the ear. And also when you play C, C# and D altogether it sounds harsh. It’s all in the Math of Music. The math makes it easier to listen to the consonant and dissonant sounds and find new and improved ways to Play It By Ear!!!

18 Blogs In 8 Days!!!

18 Blogs In 8 Days


On top of all the challenges that I have for the new year 2014, I just gave myself a new one – 18 Blogs In 8 Days!!! It is a challenge that I think will be accomplished. Here’s why I think so.  I have a lot of subject matter still to cover with my health, my love of music and technology (PCs, Tablets, and Smart Phones) and the sports teams in the best region of United States – Boston and New England!!!

One of the challenges that I have are the creation of graphics for these blogs. I recently turned to the internet for answers and found this blog by Ryan Hanley: that shows how to create really cool graphics using the free web resources of and also the free graphic editor by These websites are phenomenal to say the least. If there are other viable alternatives to these websites please let me know so that I could pass them along.

Health is very important for happiness and all around well being. Most people don’t pay enough attention to their health until it is almost too late. In a lot of cases, the diseases are treatable if caught early enough. You can’t mess with your health. I’ve got a challenge with a group of friends who are in different parts of the globe. It’s called Focus T25 and it just uses 25 mins a day for your work out and then 3 mins of streching. It’s been going great. I Love This!

Then there’s my love of music and technology. They make a very good way to spend time and money to get back to the rest of civilization and the billions of people who use music and technology in their daily lives.

I’m counting on you all to help me get there: 18 Blogs in 8 Days? It can be done; It will be done. How? Just relax, enjoy and…

Play It By Ear!!!

These Three Chords – Pure and Simple!


My father was a great musician, with a beautiful voice. He played several instruments from Cello to Trombone, and piano, guitar, and organ as well. He was the one who got me started on playing the piano and guitar by ear. He taught me thus basic fundamental truth about playing by ear.

Here goes: There are 3 basic chords that you can use to play any song, in any key. They are the chords formed by the First (1), Fourth (4), and Fifth (5) degrees of the scale. Using these chords may not be what the original composer may have envisioned for their masterpiece, but the three chords can be used to play any song, IN ANY KEY.


For example, in the key of C Major, which doesn’t utilize any of the sharps or flats, the scale runs through the following notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and then back to C. The first note of the scales is C with the corresponding chord of C Major. The fourth is F, with the corresponding chord of F Major. The fifth note on the scale is G with the corresponding chord of G Major.

The notes C, E, and G, make up C Major
The notes F,  A, and C, make up F Major
The notes G, B, and D, make up G Major

Now that you know this, the important thing to remember is that each chord has 3 notes in it. The trick is to play the chords that correspond to the notes in the chord. This is usually a good idea. However there exceptions to this rule. Sometimes holding your chord is the right thing to do instead of changing on each note that is different from the chord.

That being said, it’s time to smile and continue to Play It By Ear!

You Raise Me Up!


As I contemplated the final blog posts for the month of October, I realized that there were a lot of people who made a difference in my life – My family, my favorite persons, my friends and coworkers, my Pastors, my church family, my fellow bloggers, First Responders, and my 28DaysToANewMe family. You know who you are. This little song excerpt is dedicated to you, because You Raise Me Up!

I Love You All and I’m taking this opportunity To Smile and Play It By Ear!

Humility – A Most Important Attitude

Humility - All Great Leaders Possess It  - Courtesy

One of the most important attitude someone can have is HUMILITY. It’s the attitude that is the most teachable. There is something about a humble person that says, “I’m Teachable.” It is a beautiful thing.

I know that I don’t know it all and I pray every day that God keeps me humble and teachable. I don’t ever want to get to the place where I feel I know it all, because there will be something else to learn. There’s a song that exemplifies Humility in a profound way. It’s one of my favorite songs – Amazing Grace. This version was sung by the Hunte Family back in February, 2013. The beautiful thing is that they were HUMBLE enough to listen to me and learn their parts. Additionally when the idea for the intro was given to me by my wife, Michelle, I was able to listen to her as well. We love to sing together. Enjoy!

Smile and remember that every day is an opportunity to Play It By Ear!


You Gotta Practice!!


Take 6, is a six member acapella gospel jazz vocal band that has been singing together for 25 years. I recently had the privilege of seeing them perform live and their show is phenomenal. They take this playing/singing by ear thing to a new level.

They recorded this one song, “Smile”, a few years ago and they did it at the concert. What was amazing though was watching Khristian Dentley play the piano on this song.

I was fascinated with the chords, runs, and the manual dexterity he displayed as he tickled the ivories and ebonies. And I asked myself the question, “Self? Can I Do That?”

I heard myself say a resounding, “YES!”

But How Can I Do It? How can you do it?
The answer is practice! Consistent Practice! Consistent, Persistent Practice.

What Do You Practice?

Practice what you know in all the keys. Sometimes you may be really slow in one key or another. But over time this will change as you become more familiar with the strange/weird key. Next time I’ll touch on this some more. As well as some tips and tricks to listen for. Until then…

Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!