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Thread: how many different sounds can you get out of the same frequency?

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    Default how many different sounds can you get out of the same frequency?

    I never quite figured this. You can hit the same note at the same octave at the same frequency on two different instruments and it'll sound different. What is the variable that makes those differences?

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    Senior Member Mark Harwood's Avatar
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    Timbre, the shape of the sound wave.
    Each cycle may be as smooth as a simple sine wave, which sounds smooth too; square and sawtooth waves sound harsh; most natural and instrumental sounds are represented by very complicated waves indeed, each one likely to be a little different from those just before it & after. Play middle C on a violin & a flute, plug a microphone into an oscilloscope, and you'll see different shapes on the screen. Those shapes represent the pressure waves that we sense as sound. Different wave shapes, different timbres.
    There's also the attack/decay envelope.
    "Music is a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is."
    - Malcolm Arnold.

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    The answer to the question is infinite.
    When you play the same e on a violin, and a piano, a guitar etc... the main difference are the harmonics of the frequency.
    If you dont know what the harmoics are ill give a quick explanation.
    For example if we have a frequency of 100hz, the harmonics are all its multiples. 2*100, 3*100, 4*100, etc....
    So on each instrument the amplitude of this armonics are different so the sum of all of them make the carachteristic sound of an instrument and on an osciloscope you can see the total sum of all the waves.
    So as i said before, you can have an infinite combinations of the harmonics to get different sounds.
    Hope it helps

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