Features of sound
Home school focus
Learn the basics about different feature of sounds, including pitch and volume.
This lesson includes:
three videos about pitch and volume
three activities to try at home
Sounds travel as invisible sound waves down our ear to our ear drum.
Once the sound waves hit our ear drum, the vibrations send a message to our brain which converts it into sound.
Depending on these vibrations, our brain is able to tell the:
- Pitch - How high or low the sound is
- Volume - How loud or quiet the sound is
The pitch of a sound is how high or low the sound is.
Depending how fast or slow the object is vibrating determines the pitch of the sound.
A high sound has a high pitch and a low sound has a low pitch.
A tight drum skin gives a higher pitched sound than a loose drum skin.
Explore pitch further in the video below.
By looking at the sound waves, you can determine whether the sound has a high pitch or a low pitch by the:
- Frequency - The number of peaks of waves in a certain time period
- Wavelength - The distance between two peaks or two troughs of waves
From this we know that the more peaks in the time period of the wave, the higher the pitch and higher pitched sounds have a shorter wavelength.
Sounds thar are high-pitched are made with fast vibrations and higher frequencies of waves, ie a greater number of waves occur in a given amount of time.
These are shorter, tight wiggly waves.
Smaller, shorter, thinner, tighter and denser objects make more high pitched sounds.
Sounds made by slow vibrations with a lower frequency have longer sound waves have a low pitch.
Objects that are larger, longer, looser or less dense make low pitched sounds.
Have a go at this pitch activity by filling in the gaps with the missing words.
We can investigate how to make sounds with different pitches using different lengths of string.
This is demonstrated in the following video.
The loudness or volume of a sound is how loud or quiet the sound is.
A nail hit hard makes a loud sound, whereas a nail hit gently makes a quiet sound.
The following video explores volume in more detail.
Loud sounds are made by strong vibrations and sound waves that have a lot of energy - these can also travel further.
Sounds that are quieter are made by weaker vibrations and don't travel very far.
Imagine you are a TV Presenter that needs to present a short segment to educate children on sound and the features of sound.
You can use the planning sheet below from Twinkl to help plan your presentation.
You may want to use PowerPoint slides, posters, pictures or diagrams to help with your explanations.
Have a go at this quiz to test your knowledge of pitch.
There's more to learn
Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.