After yesterday’s excursion to the 1950s and Big Blue, now we’re back to facing the music quiz that’s currently in preparation for TriviaPark.com and AheadWithMusic.com. Today’s question, the third in the set, also includes a little physics. Specifically, we want to know:

#### How many lines can you hear?

An ordinary 5-line musical staff covers a musical interval of one octave and two notes (counting from its bottom line to the space just above, inclusive). How many lines would be required if the staff were to cover the entire range of human hearing (roughly 20 through 20,000 vibrations per second)?

- 36
- 54
- 80
- 128

The correct answer is 36. The octave is the *musical interval*, or distance, that separates a note from the next higher or next lower note with the same name: from middle C to the next higher C, for example. The relationship between pitch and vibrational *frequency* is also quite simple: doubling the frequency raises the pitch by one octave exactly. Starting at 20 vibrations (or *cycles*) per second and doubling repeatedly, we will find that the pitch produced at 40 cycles per second is one octave higher than the original; 80 cycles per second is two octaves higher; and so on. Continuing, we will find that the pitch corresponding to 20,480 cycles per second — inaudibly high to many humans — is exactly 10 octaves higher than our starting pitch at the bottom of the frequency spectrum. If a musical work were (bizarrely) to make full use of that spectrum, and to be written out (impractically) on a single staff, the low pitch would be rendered on the bottom line. Every seven lines counted upwards represents a two-octave elevation in pitch, so 35 additional lines would be required. The *grand staff* on which piano and harp music is notated is equivalent to a single staff of 11 lines. It covers the pitch range from the second G below middle C to the second G above, corresponding to a frequency range from 98 to 784 cycles per second.