ELEMENTS OF SOUND
Elements of Sound are very necessary to understand the production of music. When the singer sings then, the voice of person is changing the frequency as well as amplitude. So, to understand these thing you have to have a brief knowledge about the elements of sound so that you can easily correct the frequency and amplitude.
Making music has been an activity of human beings, both as individuals and with others,
for thousands of years. Written texts, pictorial representations, and folklore sources provide
evidence that people from all over the globe and from the beginnings of recorded history
have created and performed music for religious rituals, civil ceremonies, social functions,
story telling, and self-expression. Some of the terminology, concepts, and vocabulary used
by musicians in writing and talking about the many types of music you will be studying are
discussed in this section on elements of sound and music.
Elements of Sound
From the perspective of a musician, anything that is capable of producing sound is a potential
instrument for musical exploitation. What we perceive as sound are vibrations (sound waves)
traveling through a medium (usually air) that are captured by the ear and converted into
electrochemical signals that are sent to the brain to be processed.
Since sound is a wave, it has all of the properties attributed to any wave, and these
attributes are the four elements that define any and all sounds. They are the frequency,
amplitude, wave form and duration, or in musical terms, pitch, dynamic, timbre (tone color),
second (20 Hertz = 20 Hz) and as fast as 20,000 times per second (20,000 Hertz = 20 kiloHertz =
20 kHz). Humans are able to perceive sounds from approximately 20 Hz to 15 kHz, depending
on age, gender, and noise in the environment. Many animals are able to perceive sounds
much higher in pitch.
When musicians talk about being “in tune” and “out of tune,” they are talking about
pitch, but more specifically, about the relationship of one pitch to another. In music we often
have a succession of pitches, which we call a melody, and also play two or more pitches at
the same time, which we call harmony. In both cases, we are conscious of the mathematical
distance between the pitches as they follow each other horizontally (melody) and vertically
(harmony). The simpler the mathematical relationship between the two pitches, the more
consonant it sounds and the easier it is to hear if the notes are in tune.
Amplitude is the amount of energy contained in the sound wave and is perceived as being
either loud or soft. Amplitude is measured in decibels, but our perception of loud and soft
changes depending on the sounds around us. Walking down a busy street at noon where the
noise in the environment might average 50 decibels, we would find it difficult to hear the voice
of a person next to us speaking at 40 decibels. On that same street at night that 40 decibel
speaking voice will seem like a shout when the surrounding noise is only about 30 decibels.
The wave form of a sound determines the tone color, or timbre that we hear and is how we can
tell the difference between the sound produced by a voice, a guitar, and a saxophone even if
they are playing the same frequency at the same amplitude.
The simplest wave form is the sine wave, which we have seen diagrammed in the
examples for frequency and amplitude above. Pure sine waves rarely occur in nature but
they can easily be created through electronic means. An instrument with a timbre close to the purity of a sine wave is the flute. The violin section of the orchestra, by contrast, has a
much more complex timbre as seen in its wave form.
depending on the context. Several durations, one after another, create the rhythm of a piece.
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