When it comes to learning how to sing or learning music in general for that matter, there tends to be some confusion around the word ‘pitch’ and what pitch is in music.
In music and singing there are way too many words that are dropped in front of you for you to trip over and fall flat on your face. Metaphorically speaking of course. The ‘flat on the face’ part is giving up your studies. As I say in my singing courses, I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand the words of what you are studying and that you should always look up your words.
So let’s go ahead clear this one up.
We can’t talk about the word ‘pitch’ without talking about the word ‘frequency’.
The words ‘frequency’ and ‘pitch‘ are basically two words for the same thing as far as sound is concerned. They both represent the concept of how high or how low a note is. The only difference really is that frequency is more literal in a scientific sense and ‘pitch’ is more descriptive.
A common misconception when studying ‘pitch’ is that it means how high the sound waves are, or how tall they are. Which would mean the definition of pitch being used is ‘how steep a slope is’, like the pitch of a roof. And that would be incorrect.
As you know there are several definitions of pitch. Like the playing field used in cricket is called a pitch. The black stuff used to tar a road is also called pitch. Which is where the phrase ‘pitch black’ comes from. But I digress.
The definition we are using is the how high or how low the sound is of something. And frequency is how many times something happens over time. The faster the frequency, the higher the note or pitch. The slower the frequency the lower the note or pitch.
Therefore, high frequency = high pitch. Low frequency = low pitch.
Take a look at this image.
Look at it as if the wave were moving from left to right through time. NOT top to bottom, or how ‘tall’ the waves are.
The front of the wave that is the farthest to the right would be the first wave that hit the ear. And then count the front of each wave consecutively after that and you will get the amount of waves that occurred in one second.
It’s the amount of waves is one second that we are looking at.
In one second, the frequency of the sound waves of the high note is 16 waves. The sound wave hits the ear 16 times in one second. That is the high notes frequency. 16 per second.
The frequency of the low note is 4. There are 4 sound waves per second. That is it’s frequency. It is less frequent than the high note. It’s frequency is lower in number. 4 per second. So, with sound, higher frequencies produced higher pitched notes. Lower frequencies produce lower pitched notes.
Now, how TALL the wave is or isn’t would determine it’s VOLUME or how loud it is. But that is a different subject.
Hope that clears things up.