Time and Sound

For group lessons, I went to the piano and played an interval of two notes. I asked my students to name the higher sounding pitch. They were accurate in determining whether the pitch moved up or down. I got to thinking about the basic components of music and so, here I am sharing on sound from a huge resource that I often refer to when teaching young students, Basic Materials in Music Theory. I hope you will be blessed by this short scientific study of sound.

Paul Harder says, "The sensation of sound is produced by compressive waves in the atmosphere emanating from a vibrating body. Because time is required for the transmission of even a single wave, sound cannot be experienced except within a period of time." So, time and sound are the basic materials of music. Let's talk about the properties of sound.

  1. SoundA vibrating body is the source of sound.
  2. Ear or Listener - Sound waves transmit energy from the vibrating body to the ear.
  3. Sound Waves - The atmosphere transmits vibrational disturbances called sound waves.
  4. Ears - Our perception of sound results from sound waves transmitted from the vibrating body to our ear.
  5. Highness or Lowness - Pitch is a technical term which expresses the highness or lowness of a sound.
  6. Pitch - Frequency of vibration determines the pitch of a sound.
  7. Lower - The slower the vibrating body is caused to vibrate, the lower the pitch.
  8. Frequency - The pitch of a sound is determined by the frequency of vibration.
  9.  Pitch or Frequency - High and Low are subjective descriptions of the pitch of a sound.
  10. Lower - When the frequency of a pitch is halved, the resulting tone will be an Octave lower.

I remember as a child what fun it was to take a large piece of wax paper and place it inside my old upright piano between the mallets and the strings. What a delight to change the pitch to sound like more of a kazoo rather than an acoustic piano... Fun times, for sure!

  • Intensity - Loud and soft are subjective and relative terms. They refer to the intensity of a sound.
  • Timbre - The ear is capable of distinguishing not only differences in pitch and intensity but also differences in the quality of sounds. This is called Timbre. The property of sound which enables us to tell one musical instrument from another is called Timbre.
  • Duration - Sounds not only have pitch, intensity, and timbre, but also duration. (The length of tones).
To wrap it up, just remember the 4 properties of sound, which are a vital concern for musicians. Pitch is the high or low sound and varies according to the frequency of vibration. Each time the frequency is doubled, the pitch is raised one octave. Intensity is a loud or soft sound and is the result of the amplitude of the sound wave. The quality of a sound is called timbre and results, in part, from the number, relative intensity, and distribution of the harmonics present. Duration is especially important for musicians because it is concerned with rhythm, one of the basic elements of music.

Remember to take a look at Paul Harder Course. You may be interested in this comprehensive ear training Pitch Software.

Happy Sounds and all the best to you!

-- LadyD

 "The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King

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