Science: Sound Your A

The "standard yardstick" of music, to which instruments are tuned, is the "true A": a note with 440 vibrations a second. Musicians have now acquired an accurate, electronic gadget for sounding their "A."

When a symphony orchestra tunes up, it traditionally takes A from the oboe. But the oboe's bleat is too feeble to be heard above a blitz of tuning. Its A, though the truest available, does not always sound the same. It may be affected by variations in the temperature, the humidity, the reed —or the oboe player.*

It took a good musician and a good electronics man to improve on...

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