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Difference Between Pitch and Frequency

Pitch vs Frequency

Pitch and frequency are two concepts discussed in physics and music. Frequency is the number of repetitive occurrences per unit time whereas pitch is an intuitive concept associated with the frequency of a sound wave. These concepts are widely used in fields such as acoustics, music, waves and vibrations and various other fields. In this article, we are going to discuss what frequency and pitch are, their definitions, the similarities between pitch and frequency, the applications of pitch and frequency, and finally the difference between pitch and frequency.

Frequency

Frequency is a concept discussed in periodic motions of objects. To understand the concept of frequency, a proper understanding of periodic motions is required.

A periodic motion can be considered as any motion that repeats itself in a fixed time period. A planet revolving around the sun is a periodic motion. A satellite orbiting around the earth is a periodic motion even the motion of a balance ball set is a periodic motion. Most of the periodic motions we encounter are circular, linear or semi-circular. A periodic motion has a frequency.

The frequency means how “frequent” the event is. For simplicity, we take frequency as the occurrences per second. Periodic motions can either be uniform or non-uniform. A uniform motion can have uniform angular velocity. Functions such as amplitude modulation can have double periods. They are periodic functions encapsulated in other periodic functions. The inverse of the frequency of the periodic motion gives the time for a period. Simple harmonic motions and damped harmonic motions are also periodic motions. Thereby the frequency of a periodic motion can also be obtained using the time difference between two similar occurrences. The frequency of a simple pendulum only depends on the length of the pendulum and the gravitational acceleration for small oscillations.

Frequency is also discussed in statistics. The absolute frequency is the number of times an event is repeated over the given time or over a unit time.

Pitch

Pitch is a concept connected directly with frequency. Higher the pitch of a sound higher the frequency in which it oscillates.

The pitch is a property discussed only in sound waves. Pitch is not a well-defined concept. Pitch is not a property of the sound wave. The pitch is the hearing sensation created by such a sound wave. Pitch can be quantified only using words such as “high pitched” or “low pitched”. There is no way of measuring an absolute amount of pitch since it is not a well-defined quantity.

Some sound waves contain several numbers of pitches as they are combinations of overtones.

Pitch vs Frequency

• Frequency is a very well-defined quantity whereas pitch is not a well-defined quantity.
• Pitch is a property observed only in sound waves. Frequency is a property discussed in all forms of waves including electromagnetic waves and mechanical waves.
• Frequency is also discussed in oscillations and vibrations.

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