That a sound is perceived as serious or acute it depends on the number of vibrations it makes per unit of time. The more frequent the vibrations (high frequency), the higher the sound. If the vibrations are less frequent (low frequency) the sound will be more serious.
A sound is low or high depending on its frequency. The frequency of sounds is measured in Hertz (Hz) which is the number of wave vibrations per second.
The sounds that can be perceived by the human ear are between 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. This amplitude is called the “audible spectrum”.
However, by technological means, sounds have been discovered that are inaudible to humans but that various animals perceive or emit as a form of communication. For example, various species of whales emit and perceive very low (with a frequency of 10 Hz) and very high (with frequencies of 325 kHz or 325,000 Hz) sounds. This means that some species of whales communicate with sounds that are below the spectrum audible by humans, while others do so with sounds that are well above what we can hear.
- Treble. High-pitched sounds are usually considered those that exceed 5 kHz, which is equivalent to 5,000 Hz.
- Graves. Bass sounds are generally considered to be those below 250 Hz.
- Intermediate. The range between 250 Hz and 5,000 Hz corresponds to intermediate sounds.
The frequency of the sound should not be confused with the volume. A high-pitched sound can be high-power (high volume) or low-power (low volume) without affecting the frequency of the wave.
Volume is defined as the amount of energy that passes through a surface per second.
Western music uses notes that are grouped into “octaves” based on their wave frequency. From lowest to highest, the notes of each octave are arranged as follows: Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si.
Examples of bass sounds
- Thunder. Thunder emits sounds so low that some cannot be perceived by the human ear (below 20 Hz).
- Voice of an adult male. Typically, the male voice is between 100 and 200 Hz.
- Voice of a bass. Male singers classified as “bass” are those who can deliver notes between 75 and 350 Hz.
- Sound of a bassoon. The bassoon is a woodwind instrument that achieves sounds as low as 62 Hz.
- Sound of a trombone. The trombone is a brass instrument that achieves notes as low as 73 Hz.
- C of the octave 0. It is the lowest sound used in Western music. Its frequency is 16,351 Hz.
- If from the octave 1. Despite being almost two octaves above the C of octave 0, this B is still a very low sound, with a frequency of 61.73 Hz. It is even below the capacity of a bass singer.
Examples of high pitched sounds
- Sound of the violin. The violin is a stringed instrument that achieves some of the loudest sounds in an orchestra (after the piano, which has a wide range of sounds).
- Children’s voice. Children often have voices above 250 or 300 Hz. Although this range does not exceed the 5,000 Hz usually considered for high-pitched sounds, we perceive these voices as high-pitched compared to adult voices.
- Voice of a soprano. Female singers who are classified as “sopranos” can emit notes between 250 Hz and 1,000 Hz.
- If the fifth eighth. It is one of the loudest sounds a trained soprano can reach, with a frequency of 987.766 Hz.
- Song of the birds. The minimum emission frequency of birdsong is 1,000 Hz and reaches 12,585 Hz. Even the lowest frequencies are among the highest sounds compared to the human voice.
- Whistle. It is usually around 1,500 Hz.