# Chapter 1: Sound: Pitch, Dynamics & Tone Color

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Chapter 1: Sound: Pitch, Dynamics & Tone Color
Unit 1: ELEments Chapter 1: Sound: Pitch, Dynamics & Tone Color

Sound Sounds begin with the vibration of an object.
Those vibrations are transmitted as sound waves to our ears by a medium. What mediums can be used to transmit sound? Once the vibrations reach our eardrums, they start vibrating. Impulses (or signals) are then transmitted to our brain. There, they are selected, organized & interpreted.

Sound Three main methods of creating sound:
Striking Scraping Plucking Four main properties of sound: Pitch Dynamics Tone Color Duration

Pitch The relative highness or lowness that we hear in a sound.
The pitch of a sound is determined by the frequency of its sound wave. The faster the vibration, the higher the pitch The slower the vibration, the lower the pitch

Pitch A sound with a definite pitch is called a tone.
Tones have specific frequencies. The number of cycles per second is called a frequency. A common frequency is “A-440” We call the tone of 440 cycles per second an “A” Two tones sound different when they have different pitches. The distance in pitch between any two tones is called an interval. Example: A-440 & C-523.3

Pitch When you double or halve a frequency, you create the interval of an octave. Example: A-440 up an octave is A-880 Example: A-440 down an octave is A-220 Two pitches that are separated by an octave blend extremely well.

Pitch There are an infinite number of pitches between octaves.
Demonstration However, there are only 12 typical tones used in western music: A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab These correspond with the 12 keys of the piano:

The 12 Pitches of Western Music

Pitch Range – the distance between the lowest and highest tones that a voice or instrument can produce The average untrained voice has a range of 1 ½ octaves. The piano has a range of over 7 octaves

Pitch Definite pitch – a pitch with a specific frequency
Wind & String instruments and voices have a definite pitch Indefinite pitch – a pitch without a specific frequency Many percussion instruments are based on indefinite pitch: Snare drum Bass Drum Gong Others?

Dynamics Dynamics are degrees of loudness or softness in music.
Dynamics are related to the amplitude of the sound wave. The amplitude is the height of the sound wave. The bigger the amplitude, the louder the sound. The smaller the amplitude, the softer the sound.

Dynamics Chart Term Abbreviation Meaning pianissimo pp very soft
piano p soft mezzo piano mp moderately soft mezzo * m moderate mezzo forte mf moderately loud forte f loud fortissimo ff very loud * Mezzo is very rarely used. It is most often used with piano or forte.

Dynamics There are extremes of the dynamic range
ppp – pianississimo – extremely soft pppp – pianissississimo – almost nonexistant fff – fortississimo – extremely loud ffff – fortissississimo – bombastic These are typically used to indicate degree of softness or loudness. They are mainly for effect.

Dynamics Dynamics can change either gradually or suddenly.

Dynamics Unlike (definite) pitch, dynamics are NOT absolutely precise.
Dynamics are relative to one another within the context of the piece or situation.

Sound Waves Visualized

Tone Color Also called timbre (pronounced tam-ber).
Timbre is how we can differentiate one type of sound from another. Example: The difference in a flute or a trumpet. Example: The differences in people’s voices. Can you tell the difference? Used to create variety and contrast in a word

Listening The Firebird, Scene 2 (1910)
Igor Stravinsky One melody repeated over and over Dynamics, tone color, and rhythm are used to create musical variety & contrast Instrumentation: Piccolo, 3 flutes, 3 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 6 trumpets, tuba, timpani, triangle, cymbals, bass drum, 3 harps, 1st violins, 2nd violins, violas, cellos, double basses

Listening C Jam Blues (1942) 8 Parts:
Duke Ellington & His Famous Orchestra 8 Parts: Piano, repeated note melody Saxophone, repeated note melody Violin alone, then accompanied Muted cornet alone, then accompanied Tenor saxophone alone, then accompanied Muted trombone alone, then accompanied Clarinet alone, then accompanied Full group This is a prime example of improvisation – music created at the same time it is performed.

Chapter Wrap-Up 4 characteristics of sound
Pitch - The relative highness or lowness that we hear in a sound. Dynamics - are degrees of loudness or softness in music. Tone Color Rhythm (discussed later) The characteristics are used to create variety and contrast in music.