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7: Pitch, Loudness and Timbre

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  • The mechanism of human hearing does not operate as a perfect scientific instrument. In this chapter we relate a few subjective measurements of sound (things people report after hearing a sound) to objective, scientific measurements (measurements made in a laboratory using scientific instruments). The three subjective quantities of pitch, loudness and timbre are related to laboratory measurements of a sound wave's fundamental frequency, amplitude and waveform, respectively.

    Key Terms:

    Pitch, fundamental frequency, \(v=f\lambda\), loudness, sound intensity (in \(\text{W/m}^{2}\)), sound intensity level (SIL in \(\text{dB}\)), decibels (\(\text{dB}\)), inverse square law, just noticeable difference (loudness and frequency), timbre.