Pop Music Theory


32: Pitch & Frequency

Detailed Contents

Lesson 32: Pitch & Frequency

This lesson is for those who want to know more about how pitch works, "physically", beyond our brief "musical" description in Lesson 3: Pitch & Keyboard.

First, a brief definition of sound: Sound is what happens when an object vibrates or "shakes"; the shaking object makes the air shake; and the shaking air makes your ear shake. Note that these "sound shakes" are too weak, and too fast, for your body to feel them, which is why we have ears that can feel them, as sound.

However, not all sounds have pitch. When the air shakes back and forth ("vibrates"), over and over, at a constant speed, long enough for your ear to "measure" the speed, that's when you hear a pitch. Slow vibrations make "low" pitches; fast vibrations make "high" pitches.

A pitch is measured by its frequency, which just means its "speed" in vibrations per second. Vibrations-per-second is also called Hertz; the abbreviation for Hertz is Hz. For example, the pitch "A above middle C" has a frequency of 440 Hz; that means that it's vibrating back and forth 440 times in a second.

If you understand pitches and their frequencies, then you can go on and learn how a single musical tone contains multiple frequencies, in Harmonics.

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1: Introduction
2: Teaching Yourself
3: Pitch & Keyboard
4: Pitch Names
5: Letters Game
6: Sharps & Flats
7: Half-Steps
8: Whole-Steps
9: Steps Game
10: Scales
11: Major Scale 1-2-3
12: Major 1-2-3 Games
13: Major Scale 1-5
14: Major 1-5 Games
15: Chords: Major Triads
16: Major Triad Games
17: Minor Triads
18: Minor Triad Games
19: Major Scale 1-8
20: Major Scale Games
21: Scales Above 8
22: What Next
23: Keys
24: Roman Numeral Chords
25: Diatonic Triads
26: Using Diatonics
27: 7th Chords
28: 7ths Games
29: Treble Staff
30: Treble Staff Game
31: Melody: Chord Tones
32: Pitch & Frequency

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