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Characteristics of Sound

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Characteristics of Sound - Lesson Summary

Sound is a form of energy produced by a vibrating bodies. Sound requires a material medium for its propagation. Sound does not propagate in vacuum as there is no material in the vacuum.

The to and fro or back and forth motion of an object is called vibration. Some instruments produce sound due to the vibration of membranes, some due to the vibration of strings, and some others produce sound due to the vibration of an air column.

The maximum displacement of a vibrating particle from its mean or equilibrium position is called its amplitude.

Time period
The time taken by the vibrating particle for one full vibration or oscillation is called the time period of vibration.

The number of vibrations per second is called the frequency. Frequency is measured hertz (Hz).

Characteristics of Sound
Sound produced by any means has the following characteristics, namely, loudness, pitch or shrillness, and quality or timbre.

The loudness of sound depends on its amplitude. The loudness of sound is proportional to the square of the amplitude. A roar of a lion is louder than a woman’s voice. The loudness of sound is measured in Decibel (db). If loudness exceeds 80 db, then the sound becomes physically painful.

The pitch of sound depends on its frequency. If frequency is more, then the pitch or shrillness is more. The pitch of a woman’s voice is more and it is shriller then a man’s voice.

Audible sound
Not all sound produced by vibrating bodies is audible. The human ear can recognise the sounds of frequencies in the range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. This range of frequency of sound is called audible sound.

Some animals like dogs and snakes can hear sounds of frequencies greater than 20,000 Hz.

Infrasonic sounds
Sounds of frequencies less than 20 Hz are called infrasonic sounds.

Ultrasonic sounds
The sounds of frequencies greater than 20,000 Hz are called ultrasonic sounds.


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