Q:

# What determines the pitch of sound?

A:

Pitch is determined by the frequency of a wave, and frequency is the combination of wavelength and speed at which the wave is traveling. Sound has a constant speed of 343 meters per second, so wavelength dictates pitch. The longer a sound's wavelength, the lower the pitch of that sound.

## Keep Learning

When multiple instruments play the same pitch, the wavelengths they emit are the same length. Different instruments have different overtones, which are frequencies higher than the fundamental frequency of a sound. These overtones create the variation in sounds from instruments playing the same pitch.

Sound waves also have different amplitudes. Amplitude, or height of the peak of a wave, determines how loud a sound is, but it does not change the pitch.

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## Related Questions

• A:

The pitch of a sound is the ear and brain interpreting the frequency of the sound. When there is a high frequency, the ear interprets the sound as a higher pitch, and when the frequency is low, the ear hears a low pitch. Pitch has been standardized and uses "cents" as a unit of measurement.

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• A:

The difference between pitch and volume is that pitch is determined by the frequency that sound waves vibrate at while volume measures how loud or soft sound is. Combined with timbre, pitch, measured in hertz, and volume, measured in decibels, comprise the three components of sound.

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• A:

The frequency of a sound is the rate at which wave crests reach a given point. Sound waves propagate outward from their source, as a series of compressions and rarefactions of the surrounding air. The peak of each cycle can be plotted as the crest of a wave, as can the low point or trough. The frequency with which these crests and troughs arrive gives sound its pitch.