Re: Pitch & fundamental frequency

Subject: Re: Pitch & fundamental frequency
From: Sylvain Le Beux (
Date: Tue Sep 06 2005 - 11:35:53 EDT

Hi greg,

In fact, the fundamental frequency correspond to the common first
harmonic (H0) in a signal based description. Pitch is related to the
_perceptive_ fondamental that our ear and brain is believing to hear.
There is indeed cases where pitch and fundamental frequency do not
correpond each other. For example, as J.C. Risset figure it out, if you
(tou can try in Max or Pd) you retrieve from an harmonic sound (here
piano) its fundamental, the ear is still believing that this fundamental
exists, and perceive the "pitched" sound as its original one, whereas
the fundamental lacks.
The phenomenon involve in this is the fact that our brain (heavily
trained), when he hears frequencies, do not perceive _only_ these
effective frequencies but also combinations of them (f1+f2, f1-f2, f2-f1
...) and as a instrument sound is highly harmonic, and that harmonics
are multiples from the fundamental frequency, soustraction and/or
addition of it tend to reconstruct the original spectrum.
So, as a matter of fact, we sometimes hear sound as we want it to be,
and not as it is in physical reality, but you can't do anything to
counter it as it is part of our human perception limitations.
By the way, most of the time pitch and F0 correspond, and as an extent,
the use of this two words is sometimes abusive. But most of the time,
there are the same, that's why.

Hope I answered well.


Greg Eustace wrote:

>I have heard of cases where the pitch of a pitched sound is not characterized
>the fundamental frequency. To reiterate, I am concerned only with those sounds
>having a discernable pitch which is not in obvious one-to-one correspondence
>with the fundamental. Can anyone elaborate on this, as it seems
>to me? It is quite possible that I misunderstood the statement being made.
>Thanks for any insights.

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