Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pitch, loudness, quality

Even though English is not a tonal language, pitch is an important ingredient in spoken English: word-stress, sentence-stress. Often, L2 speakers equate pitch with loudness. But they are different: loudness depends on the amplitude of a sound wave; pitch/resonance is number of vibrations per second (time period of that wave).

Quality/timbre is something that distinguishes two sounds that have same period and amplitude (same pitch and amplitude).

High pitch, low energy
High pitch, high energy
low pitch, low energy
low pitch, low energy

You can draw sinusoidal waves that can illustrate these four varieties.

The “fundamental frequency” (or pitch) of male voices typically ranges from 100 to 150 Hz, while female voice pitches range from 175 to 250 Hz. If your voice falls below 165 Hz (and I'll tell you how to find out your exact pitch in a moment), you're probably going to get read as male.
Karen Perez

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