<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
For middle school to adult, an explanation of the relationships between frequency, wavelength, and pitch.

Any sound that you hear as a tone is made of regular, evenly spaced waves of air molecules. The most noticeable difference between various tonal sounds is that some sound higher or lower than others. These differences in the pitch of the sound are caused by different spacing in the waves; the closer together the waves are, the higher the tone sounds. The spacing of the waves - the distance from the high point of one wave to the next one - is the wavelength .

All sound waves are travelling at about the same speed - the speed of sound. So waves with a longer wavelength don't arrive (at your ear, for example) as often (frequently) as the shorter waves. This aspect of a sound - how often a wave peak goes by, is called frequency by scientists and engineers. They measure it in hertz , which is how many wave peaks go by in one second. People can hear sounds that range from about 20 to about 17,000 hertz.

The word that musicians use for frequency is pitch . The shorter the wavelength, the higher the frequency, and the higher the pitch , of the sound. In other words, short waves sound high; long waves sound low. Instead of measuring frequencies, musicians name the pitches that they use most often. They might call a note "middle C" or "2 line G" or "the F sharp in the bass clef". (See Octaves and Diatonic Music and Tuning Systems for more on naming specific frequencies.) These notes do have definite frequencies (Have you heard of the "A 440" that is used as a tuning note?), but musicians usually find it easier just to use the note names.

Wavelength, frequency, and pitch

Since the sounds are travelling at about the same speed, the one with the shorter wavelength will go by more frequently; it has a higher frequency, or pitch. In other words, it sounds higher.

Ideas for introducing these concepts in the classroom

  • For younger students, the "Strings Instruments" and "Wind Instruments" activities in Sound and Music give children a chance to create higher and lower pitched sounds. There are also handouts and worksheets for younger students covering basic acoustics terms, including frequency and wavelength.
  • For older students, there are more advanced handouts and worksheets in Talking about Sound and Music that cover acoustics concepts, including frequency, wavelength, and pitch.
  • If it can be arranged, a demonstration with a real musical instrument (or two) should be popular. A live show-and-tell-style demonstration would be most memorable, although a video or a recording with pictures will do. Include a discussion on why and how instruments produce higher and lower sounds. Have the musician demonstrate low and high notes, and explain and demonstrate how the sounding part of the instrument is being made shorter or longer to get different notes. Point out that smaller, shorter instruments make shorter waves and higher sounds, and larger, longer instruments make longer waves and lower sounds. Ask the students if they are listening to a small, high-sounding instrument, or a large, low-sounding one.

Questions & Answers

can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
ninjadapaul
20/(×-6^2)
Salomon
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
ninjadapaul
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
ninjadapaul
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
Salomon
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
Salomon
I got X =-6
Salomon
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
ninjadapaul
oops. ignore that.
ninjadapaul
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
ninjadapaul
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
hello
Sherica
im all ears I need to learn
Sherica
right! what he said ⤴⤴⤴
Tamia
what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks.
Kevin Reply
a perfect square v²+2v+_
Dearan Reply
kkk nice
Abdirahman Reply
algebra 2 Inequalities:If equation 2 = 0 it is an open set?
Kim Reply
or infinite solutions?
Kim
The answer is neither. The function, 2 = 0 cannot exist. Hence, the function is undefined.
Al
y=10×
Embra Reply
if |A| not equal to 0 and order of A is n prove that adj (adj A = |A|
Nancy Reply
rolling four fair dice and getting an even number an all four dice
ramon Reply
Kristine 2*2*2=8
Bridget Reply
Differences Between Laspeyres and Paasche Indices
Emedobi Reply
No. 7x -4y is simplified from 4x + (3y + 3x) -7y
Mary Reply
is it 3×y ?
Joan Reply
J, combine like terms 7x-4y
Bridget Reply
im not good at math so would this help me
Rachael Reply
yes
Asali
I'm not good at math so would you help me
Samantha
what is the problem that i will help you to self with?
Asali
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
many many of nanotubes
Porter
what is the k.e before it land
Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
AMJAD
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
AMJAD
what is system testing
AMJAD
what is the application of nanotechnology?
Stotaw
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
Azam
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
Prasenjit
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
Azam
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
Prasenjit
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
Damian
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
Damian
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
Azam
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
bamidele Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Good
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
QuizOver.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Sound, physics and music. OpenStax CNX. Jan 06, 2005 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10261/1.1
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Sound, physics and music' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask