Tonal Spectrum

Let's look at where each instrument lives in the Tonal Spectrum.

We can see 10 octaves in an imaginary piano. A real piano stops at C8. The fundamental frequencies are shaded in dark and the overtones and harmonics in a lighter color.

Basically we can divide up the tonal spectrum into 4 major segments:
  • The lows from 20-200Hz.
  • The low mids from 200-1,000.
  • The high mids from 1K to 5 K, then …
  • The highs from about 5k on up.
Check out each instrument and where they live. You can see that the fundamentals of each instrument don't go much past 1K. Everything above that are harmonics and overtones. But these areas are very important in the character of the instrument so don't think you can pull everything out above the fundamental.

For more information on the tonal spectrum, check out