Although both are some how directly related Such that when one increases,the other one also increases

I have read different Google results but couldn't understand .

I want to know what is exact difference between both these terms? Please kindly explain your answer with example preferably having graphs/wave forms for demonstration of difference


Frequency is mathematically defined as the number of cycles per second. So it is a more strict word mathematically. It is represented numerically by the unit called Hertz.

$f=1/T$, where $T$ represents the one-period length of a waveform. This makes frequency quantifiable.

Pitch on the other hand, is a perceptual characteristic of a sound frequency, so it's a word used to describe how humans perceive a tone as different or not. That's why it is mostly used in the field of music more than mathematics. It is closely associated to the frequency of a sound, but not all frequencies can by described as different pitches (e.g. 440 Hz and 441 Hz would practically sound the same pitch, but a 440 Hz and 466 Hz would sound as two different pitches).

That's how musical scales were invented---to create a scale that classifies the fundamental frequencies and label them as distinct pitches (or notes). A good musical scale represents the foundation of music theory for different styles of music.


Frequency is a mathematical/physical concept while pitch is a perceptual concept that correlates with frequency.

Edit: or in wikipedias words: « Frequency is an objective, scientific attribute that can be measured. Pitch is each person's subjective perception of a sound wave, which cannot be directly measured.» https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_(music)

  • $\begingroup$ Mean frequency will be one constant/fix value while pitch may be different for different people depending Upon their ear? $\endgroup$ – Man Mar 18 '20 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ If a signal has let say frequency equal to 60, can we assign a number to pitch of signal? $\endgroup$ – Man Mar 18 '20 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ Most interesting signals contain multiple frequencies. If you generate a harmonic series and remove the fundamental, I believe that we can perceive a pitch corresponding to that fundamental (a frequency that is not in the signal at all). I suppose that perception of pitch is weakly linked to absolute playback levels (a 1kHz tone at 110dB SPL sounding higher pitched than one at 50 dB SPL)? $\endgroup$ – Knut Inge Mar 18 '20 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ I’ve never heard of pitch being linked to playback level. Timbre, sure, but never pitch $\endgroup$ – Dan Szabo Mar 18 '20 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Sound/pitch.html $\endgroup$ – Knut Inge Mar 18 '20 at 20:08

In addition to the distinction that frequency is an objective measure and pitch is a subjective one, it's also useful to note that the pitch of a note may not be directly related to any easy measure of frequency.

Case in point: a bell, tuned to A440, will generally emit sound energy at roughly 880Hz, 1320Hz, 1760Hz, etc. -- in other words, for a pitch frequency $f$, a bell gives you $n\,f$ for $n \in \lbrace 2, 3, 4, \cdots \rbrace$. It does not give you the fundamental -- and yet, when you hear a bell, you hear the pitch corresponding to the fundamental.

This happens because our hearing is optimized for an environment where all of the "musical tones" that we hear (and that we need to hear to understand speech and other utterances) are more than just a pure sine wave.

The wider study of this sort of phenomenon is called "psychoacoustics", if you want to search for it.


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