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# What determines the pitch of sound?

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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.

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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:

All electromagnetic waves move at the speed of light; subsequently, the wavelength and frequency of waves must be proportional, as the wavelength multiplied by the frequency equals the speed of light. As wavelength increases, frequency decreases, and as wavelength decreases, frequency increases proportionally.

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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:

Pitch refers to the frequency of a sound, while loudness refers to the size or amplitude of the sound. Every sound has both a specific pitch and loudness.