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Intensity and Loudness of Sound

Explores how the amount of energy present in a sound changes how we perceive it.

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How does auto-tune work?

Credit: Christophe Verdier
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cverdier/5327383061/sizes/m/in/photolist-97Leo6-dSSACz-7Niagz-7Ni9m8-7Ni9RB-aB1JSH-dLJjQ9-9fQEsQ-8grRfe-8iDSYj-7NiaV8-bs1yUf-7NnaY1-7Nn8X3-7GBQns-9wsnHT-8VeaN4-9cK5Gb-cxxn2J-anVJKK-bASoB7-dbDiTJ-bJFZp6-cxxoUA-bEYb8v-7NGRuG-aPmXnr-9xvg1u-cxxoGf-cxxmMm-cxxo2m-boRSXY-cxxnJq-cxxp7Q-95nus5-cRV5bs-9ewHSG/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0


In the digital age, it seems that the senses are becoming digitalized.  One of the most popular—or notorious—ways that we have captured and manipulated the natural is through auto-tune.  Whether you are a fan or hater of digitally altered music, auto-tune is used by many popular singers and bands as a way to fix mistakes as well as a medium for musical expression.  Artists change the pitch of music by altering the frequency of the sound.  If it is a pitch correction, the computer tries to retune the note to the nearest semitone—a pitch between the 12 pitches of the musical scale.  However, to avoid changing the speed too much, sound is usually produced with digital instead of analogue signals; analogue signals are based on electrical signals whereas digital signals are based on discrete values.  With these discrete values, we first change the duration of the sound and don’t touch the frequency.  After the sound duration is adjusted, the frequency is changed.  This way, the pitch is changed without the length of the note being changed.

Creative Applications

  1. Why would the duration of the sound change if the note’s frequency changes?
  2. What are discrete values?
  3. Why is it better to change sound digitally?



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