Q:

# What does the frequency of a sound wave determine?

A:

The frequency of a sound wave determines what people hear as pitch. A higher frequency has a higher pitch, and a lower frequency is heard as a lower pitch. The frequencies that humans can hear range from 20 to 20,000 Hertz.

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Frequencies below 20 Hz are called infrasound, and those above 20,000 Hz are ultrasound frequencies. Animals like dogs and dolphins can hear at lower and higher frequencies than humans. For example, dolphins hear frequencies between 0.25 and 200,000 Hz.

A wave's frequency is defined as the rate at which a particle vibrates through a medium or material. Hertz is the unit of measurement used for frequency; 1 Hertz is equal to 1 vibration per second.

Loudness, which is another component of sound waves, is determined by a sound wave's amplitude. A large amplitude represents a louder sound.

## Related Questions

• A:

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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A sound wave takes on the form of a longitudinal wave. Sound waves are also classified as mechanical waves since they require a medium to travel through.

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The speed of a sound wave depends on what type of medium it is traveling through, and if that medium is a gas or liquid, a significant change in temperature can also affect its speed. In air, the speed at which sound travels is about 1 mile every 5 seconds at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but the speed of a sound wave traveling through solid rock is about 18 miles every 5 seconds. Sound travels faster through a solid substance like rock because, unlike liquids or gases, the molecules in a solid are held close together.