Pitch is the key term to understand the relationship between the instrument and the tone, the instrument (the “voice”) and the sound (the “tone”). Most people only understand pitch as the frequency the instrument is able to produce. However, the fundamental frequency (the frequency at which the instrument starts to produce its sound) is not the same for an instrument as it is for the air it is breathing. For example, a trumpet sounds the same as a pipe-organ in terms of fundamental frequency, but the two cannot be the same because the pipes vibrate at different times in their cycle (like the trumpet and the pipe-organ), and the trumpet has an even more complex structure than the pipe.
In addition to the physical properties of the instrument, pitch is a function of the relative air/pitch ratio. The more the pipe is allowed to move during a particular cycle of vibration, the more difficult or more difficult it is to produce a particular sound (pitch). In other words, the higher a voice (a voice with a particular pitch) is able to produce its sound, the more difficult it will be to create the kind of pitch that will work at any given time and environment (for example, in harmony with another voice). A particular pitch can also be related to other characteristics, such as harmony (or discord).
Pitch is not a “simple function of the instrument, air and sound” – it’s a function of a whole ensemble with many parts.
The fundamental frequency is also not the same for a voice as for another voice – it is related to several characteristics (including relative air/pitch) and the relationship of other voices to it (such as harmony and discord). As a result, pitch is a function of many parameters rather than to one.
How do we know our pitch? (and what about other pitches, such as other harmonic notes…)
In addition to our general pitch (the frequency at which we make the same sound as the air we breathe), we also have our pitch “fingerprint” – what we are sensitive to. This can vary with different types of music – such as stringed instruments. However, with more recent developments in musical technology, more research has been conducted to quantify how our pitch is determined. For example, musicians are now able to study the physical properties of the sound and the air of a particular instrument. This has allowed the development of pitch-recognition software for many different types of musical instruments.
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