Pitch (music)

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Pitch represents the perceived fundamental frequency of a sound.[1] It is one of the major auditory attributes of musical tones along with duration, loudness, timbre, and sound source location.

Pitch allows the construction of melodies; pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower", and are quantified as frequencies (cycles per second, or hertz), corresponding very nearly to the repetition rate of sound waves. However, pitch is not an objective physical property, but a subjective psychophysical attribute of sound.[2]


Perception of pitch

Pitch is a subjective sensation in which a listener assigns perceived tones to relative positions on a musical scale based primarily on the frequency of vibration. The just-noticeable difference (jnd, the threshold at which a change is perceived) depends on the tone's frequency and is about 4.3 cents (1 cent = 1 hundredth of a semitone) or about 0.36 Hz in frequency within the octave of 1,000–2,000 Hz but within the octave 62–125 Hz the jnd is much coarser with some 40 cents or about 2 Hz between perceived pitch changes. The jnd is typically tested by playing two tones in quick succession with the listener asked if there was a difference in their pitches.[3] The jnd becomes smaller if the two tones are played simultaneously as the listener is then able to discern beat frequencies. The total number of perceptible pitch steps in the range of human hearing is about 1,400; the total number of notes in the equal-tempered scale is 120.[3]

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