Physics

Difference Between Pitch and Tone

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Main Difference

The main difference between Pitch and Tone is that the Pitch is a key auditory factor of the sound, whereas Tone relates to the sound quality.

Pitch vs. Tone

Pitch determines the quality of the sound produced; on the other hand, the tone is another feature of sound that determines its quality. Pitch is the degree of how high and low is the sound, while the tone refers to the musical sound concerning the pitch, quality, and strength of the sound.

Pitch is a key auditory factor of the sound. It is defined as the perceived fundamental frequency of sound. On the contrary, tone refers to the ‘quality’ of sound, tone distinguishes the sound and makes it recognizable by its constant ‘pitch.’

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When we talk about music, the pitch is the value of a tone in it; on the flip side, the tone is known as the thickness of the note in music. Pitch can be perfect in music, but the tone cannot.

The related element with pitch is frequency; on the flip side of the coin, the related elements with tone are pitch, strength, and quality. The pitch can not distinguish the grammatical or lexical meaning. Tone can distinguish the grammatical or lexical meaning.

Comparison Chart

PitchTone
The main auditory factor of the sound is pitchThe ‘quality’ of sound is the tone
Related Elements
FrequencyPitch, quality, and strength
In the Field of Music
It is the value of a toneThe thickness of the note in music
Perfection in Music
It hasIt does not have
Lexical and Grammatical Meaning
Not used to distinguishUsed to distinguish
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What is Pitch?

Pitch is one of the factors to determine the quality of the sound. It is the degree of how high and low the sound is. Pitch is defined as a key auditory factor of the sound. When we talk about music, the pitch is the value of a tone in it. Pitch can be perfect in music, but tone cannot. The related element with pitch is frequency. Pitch is the components of sound that cannot distinguish the lexical or grammatical meaning.

The pitch of the sound depends on its frequency. The sound with high frequency is shrill, and the sound with low frequency is like a cloud thunder. In the music field, the pitch is the value of the note sung. A natural vocal production needs to be established in music before a singer works on his pitch. With the natural vocal in place, the singing can be easy on the pitch. In music, the notes are the symbols of music indicating the location of a pitch.

Pitch is governed by the rate of the production of vibrations. A high pitch is having a high frequency, whereas low pitch has a low frequency. Frequency is defined as the rate at which the vibrations occur. Some people have a high-pitched voice, and some have a low pitched voice. Pitch is also related to human emotions. For example, if a person is angry or excited, he will shout by making a high pitch sound, but if one is sad or tired, he/she will make low pitch sound.

The reason that we feel some sounds pleasant, while unpleasant is the pitch of that sound. The pitch of the tone is its depth/height related to the complete series of tones heard by the ear. This is the reason that two instruments with the same pitch sound differently. The listener evaluation of frequency also represents the pitch of a tone. The higher the pitch, the higher its frequency is, and the same is the case with the lower pitch having a lower frequency.

What is Tone?

Tone refers to the musical sound concerning the pitch, quality, and strength of the sound. It is one of the reasons behind the variations in sound produced from different sources. The tone relates to the sound quality. It distinguishes the sound and makes it recognizable by its constant ‘pitch.’ The tone is known as the thickness of the note in music. The related elements with tone are pitch, strength, and quality. The tone can also distinguish the lexical or grammatical meaning.

The tone is the reason that we like or dislike the voice of some singers. It helps us in differentiating between many voices. The tone is known as the color or the timbre of the pitch. Different words describe the tone of the sound. These words are dark, warm, brilliant, ringing, rich, lush, shrill, strident, etc. The emotions conveyed in the voice also depends upon this tone factor of the voice. The tone reflects our mood, as well.

In musical terms, the tone is the timbre or quality of the note. It is easy for a singer to have perfect pitch, but making a perfect tone is quite difficult — a lot of factors influence tones such as breath support, physical condition, technique, and the like. Tone refers to the quality of sound of any voice or musical instrument or singing.

Tone also directs the semantic, contrasting, phonemic, or lexical contrasts between words that are signaled by the difference in pitch. It helps us in differentiating between many voices. A person’s voice contains many overtones with harmonics. Different sounds have different overtones, and this is the reason that every individual in this world has a different voice.

Key Differences

  1. Pitch is the degree of how high and low is the sound, whereas the tone refers to the musical sound concerning the pitch, quality, and strength of the sound.
  2. Pitch is a key auditory factor of the sound. It is defined as the perceived fundamental frequency of sound. On the other hand, tone refers to the ‘quality’ of sound.
  3. When we talk about music, the pitch is the value of a tone in it; on the flip side, the tone is known as the thickness of the note in music.
  4. The pitch of the sound depends on its frequency. The sound with high frequency is shrill, and the sound with low frequency is like a cloud thunder. While the tone of a sound is used to determine the quality of sound, it is the reason that we like or dislike the voice of some singers.
  5. Pitch can be perfect in music; conversely, the tone cannot.
  6. The related element with pitch is frequency; on the contrary, the related elements with tone are pitch, strength, and quality.
  7. The lexical or grammatical meaning cannot be distinguished by the pitch; on the other side, the tone that can distinguish the lexical or grammatical meaning.

Conclusion

Pitch and tone are the two components of the sound. Both are related to each other but are different from each other in their features, functions, and characteristics.

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Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss