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Pitch and vocal folds

This month we’re picking up from the end of last month to look at pitch and our vocal folds.

When does sound become pitch?

If you remember last month’s final video and blog, we used a tuning fork. A tuning fork is a pair of specially made metal prongs which vibrate together at a specific pitch. In the case of our fork it was 329.6 times per second. We call that measurement hertz. Hertz (hz) are ‘cycles per second’ – the frequency of things per second.

When the tuning fork vibrates it creates a hum at a certain pitch. The particular tuning fork I was using vibrates at the pitch of E (which is 329.6 hz). If you were to play that particular E on a piano, the strings would vibrate at 329.6 times per second. On a guitar, the E string vibrates at that same speed – if they’re in tune.

Going back to our vocal folds, they will vibrate at 329.6 times per second when we sing that E too. An A is 440hertz – a much easier number to remember.

If I sing an A for 10 seconds, my vocal folds will vibrate 4,400 times. Quite an achievement for fold that are only the length of your thumb nail – incredible!

Check out the video here: