Friday, February 09, 2007

Interval of the Day: Unisons and Octaves


The unison and octave. Two intervals that are tuned the same way in nearly every known musical tradition. They are also regarded as the two most 'consonant' intervals. They are the only intervals tuned the same way in both equal tempered and just intonation. Some would argue that they are the only two intervals that equal temperament "gets right."

The unison is the musical/harmonic equivalent of x=x. No matter how one measures harmonic distance and 'relatedness,' two pitches tuned at a unison to each other form the most related pair of harmonic frequencies imagineable.

The octave is the next interval of strongest 'relatedness.' Two pitches an octave apart are regarded as so strongly 'related' that they share the same letter name and serve identical harmonic functions (differing only by register).

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