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Re: Tones [was Re: the electrix repeater]

At 10:41 AM -0400 8/4/01, David Beardsley wrote:
>Wolf tones are out of tune fifths. They are so out of tune that they howl
>like a wolf. They have nothing to do with resonance.

It appears that the term "wolf tone" is being used in at least two 
different ways, though I've never before heard the definition David 
Beardsley proposes.

In my experience the common usage describes undesirable resonances. 
As my violist wife explains it, a wolf tone is caused by an unstable 
interaction between the frequency of a bowed string and the 
fundamental resonant frequency of the instrument's front or back 
plate. It causes the instrument to "bark" at you, and on the viola is 
commonly in the range of F to F#. The fact that the wolf note is not 
necessarily in tune with the string suggests a possible origin fro 
Beardsley's usage.

I've found citations for "wolf tones" or "wolf notes" in Benade's 
"Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics" and "Horns, Strings, & Harmony" 
and in Backus's "The Acoustic Foundations of Music."

It is even possible to purchase wolf note eliminators!


Richard Zvonar, PhD
(818) 788-2202