What is a schisma ?

We have a winner! A few days ago we posted the question in our newsletter asking if anyone could tell us what a schisma is. Some good internet searchers turned up the right answers and we’re going to recognize 2 winners – Mike Sherman and Mike Benton. The web has a lot of articles discussing the musical term “schisma”. It is something I understood about tuning musical instruments for long time, but never knew it had a name.

schismaSimply speaking, it is the difference between tuning the D above a G so the two sound great, and tuning that D to sound good across all scales and keys. In other words, today’s instruments tune every note an equal distance from each other and that even distance is slightly smaller than the distance your ear wants to hear a perfect fifth. This distance is a SCHISMA.

Want to try it ?? Want to hear a schisma ?

You’ll need a tuner, and a guitar (or any other tunable instrument). Play a G and verify it is in tune with your tuner. Now play the D above that G at the same time and tune the D to sound perfect to your ear. This is a perfect fifth and it ought to sound good to the ear. Now check that D against your tuner. It will be sharp – by just a schisma ! What? Crazy.

Congratulations Mike and Mike ! You will be one of the first to recieve the new Safari CD once it is available !

Ben Joe


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