Pitch and Acoustics

 Music is the international language that brings human beings closer and sparks our imagination, inspiration, and joy. Music produces soundwaves that have all kinds of rules and fascinating properties that makes the study of its sound a worthwhile activity.

These soundwaves are produced by various instruments such as string, wind, and brass instruments and even from human beings who sing perfectly to the pitch of musical compositions.

String instruments such as guitars and bass guitars create sound when their strings vibrate in the air. This is not only an art form but a science that everyone should learn.

Music can either be a harmonious or harsh depending on how it is composed and executed. This is where Pitch and Acoustics play large role in allowing music to sound good or bad. To those new to what Pitch is, it is a term used to describe how high or low sound is.

As sound is a product of vibrations, when these vibrations occur at consistent frequencies, these sounds can be perceived as musical tones. On the other hand, when soundwaves fail to produce consistent frequencies, this can be perceived as having indefinite pitch, otherwise known as Noise.

Artificial omni-directional sound source in an anechoic chamber

Acoustics facilitate how soundwaves behave and spread. When a soundwave hits an obstruction, the wave is echoed. If the obstruction is hard and flat, a soundwave will be echoed directly, while a soft and uneven surface will absorb part of the soundwave and delay or even muffle the echo.

Normally, a long echoing time is undesirable especially in creating music as the echo effect of the first soundwave mixes with succeeding soundwaves, creating a noise that is hard to distinguish.

When the acoustics provide the right surface for soundwaves to echo properly, this is when sound is most audible and is why pitch and acoustics go hand-in-hand.

In musical notation Pitch

Interesting Facts About Pitch and Acoustics

  • When a guitar string is plucked or picked, the entire string does not vibrate. The areas of the string that vibrate are called antinodes, while the areas that remain still are known as nodes.
  • In wind instruments such as a flute, it produces air molecules that vibrate back and forth. In the areas where the molecules vibrate the most are called antinodes while the areas that do not move at all are referred to as antinodes.
  • Musicians use standing waves to create musical waves, but the nature of these waves depend heavily on the what their strings or pipes look like.
  • The frequency of a pitch is measured with a unit called a Hertz (Hz).
  • Instrument size affects pitch. A violin produces higher tones than its larger model, the contrabass, while a guitar produces higher tones than its bigger counterpart, the bass guitar.
  • Long echoing soundwaves can be reduced by outfitting a room with materials that are good at absorbing sound.
  • Animal species such as songbirds and frogs rely heavily on pitched soundwaves for mating rituals and marking territories.
  • The ear is considered as a biological instrument dedicated to receiving certain wave vibrations and interpreting them as sound.

Why are humans unable to hear dog whistles?

 The human ear is only able to hear soundwaves ranging from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. Dog whistles produce soundwaves in the higher 60,000Hz.

What do you call a scientist specializing in the field of acoustics? 

A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is known as an Acoustician.

Who discovered the idea of acoustics?

The idea of acoustics was discovered in 6th Century BC by a man named Pythagoras.

What is the origin of the word “Acoustic”?

The word “Acoustic” was derived from the Greek word “Akoustikos”, which means “Ready to Hear”.