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Suppose a person is singing a particular song at a level comfortable to normal speech. Now if the person starts singing that same song at a louder level, what changes - the pitches of the various notes of the song, or the volume, or both ?

I mean , suppose there is a song being played on a computer , one can increase it's volume without changing it's picth. Is it possible to do the same while singing?

I always have an intuitive feeling that while going up a major scale , I am trying to sing a bit loudly. Is it possible to sing the same frequency, say the middle C, at different volumes ? If yes, how .

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It's unclear as to whether this question is about vocabulary definitions or vocal technique. You need to be able to evaluate yourself accurately in order for us to be helpful in diagnosing technique issues. –  NReilingh Apr 8 '13 at 7:15
The way you have asked this question indicates that you do not understand what "pitch" is. That is a very fundamental concept. –  Wheat Williams Apr 8 '13 at 19:29
I will ignore your first paragraph, since clearly the second and third paragraphs indicate that you understand the difference between volume and pitch. Answer to your first question is yes. However, if you sing at your loudest, there will be a wavering of pitch called "vibrato". Now, the reason that your voice gets louder as you sing higher notes is that it takes more effort to sing them. Imagine letting air out of a balloon. If you stretch the mouth of the balloon to make it squeak, you will see that the more you stretch it, the higher the pitch is and the more effort is required. (more) –  BobRodes Mar 19 at 15:41
You will also find that the sound gets louder as it gets higher, because the air is more compressed as it goes through the aperture. Think about air and water nozzles for an obvious example of this phenomenon. Now, it is the same with the voice. The way you make higher notes is to stretch the vocal chords in your throat. So you also have to push the air harder to make it come through, which makes the sound louder. Last question: you can say the same thing at a low voice, and shout it at exactly the same pitch. All you're doing is putting more air behind it. Do the same when singing. –  BobRodes Mar 19 at 15:45
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closed as not constructive by Wheat Williams, Jason W, Dr Mayhem, American Luke, ecline6 Apr 9 '13 at 0:29

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5 Answers

I think this is a matter of vocabulary.

  • Volume is quietness or loudness.
  • Pitch is the frequency of the note.

On a piano keyboard:

  • pitch is which key you hit
  • volume is how hard you hit the key

"Is it possible to sing the same frequency, say the middle C, at different volumes?"

Yes! You can sing any note quietly or loudly. Put some backing music on. Sing along with it quietly - as if you're trying not to disturb someone else who's listening to the backing. Now sing it loudly, as if performing to an audience the other side of the room. You've just sung the same notes, at different volumes.

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There is a subtle complication to the picture, which is that "pitch" is actually the perception of the note value, not necessarily perfectly linked to a given frequency. The sensation of pitch (as well as the sensation of "loudness") can be affected by frequency, timbre, and intensity. In general it's so subtle that only piano tuners and sound engineers really need to be aware of it, but I think it helps to keep in mind that chasing scientific values around won't necessarily help us create the sensations we want the listeners to experience. –  Todd Wilcox Apr 8 '13 at 18:58
@ToddWilcox - subtle complications are probably not helpful to the OP, though. They're struggling to understand the basics. –  slim Apr 9 '13 at 10:15
True. These questions and answers are also for posterity, no? I think an answer appropriate for the OP with a comment for the rest of the world on the subtleties is a good recipe for addressing both needs. –  Todd Wilcox Apr 10 '13 at 19:00
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There is a curious relationship between pitch (frequency of the sound-wave), volume (amplitude of the sound-wave), and perceived intensity. Higher pitches at the same volume as lower pitches will sound louder. This is why a Bass amplifier needs 400-800 watts to match a 100 watt Guitar amplifier.

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There's a 3rd property of your voice - timbre.

volume is the overall loudness, pitch is the overall frequency.

But timbre is the "characteristic sound" of once cycle of the frequency.

In order to get your voice louder, your throat, voicebox, mouth and nasal passages change size.

This gets your voice louder for the same pitch, but it will also change the timbre of your voice. It'll sound more "strained and high energy".

Pop singers try to stay at the brink of this high frequency area so things sound high energy and the listener "feels" the strain and emotion.

Even with a piano, playing a note louder (or at a different pitch=key) will change the timbre. Timber is what the waveform of your recorded voice "looks" like if you chop it down to one cycle of the pitch. It changes VERY dynamically but your ear notices the patterns and associates it with "that guy's voice".

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Although @luser's answer is an interesting effect, the reverse is not the case. Increasing your volume should have no effect on pitch.

Notice I say should. Untrained singers may inadvertently change pitch while trying to increase volume. This doesn't happen with skilled singers.

There will, however, be ranges where you do need to sing at much higher energy to keep the tone. So often increasing power and pitch are linked.

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No, volume and pitch ought to be two separate components of one's voice.To sing louder, usually one opens one's mouth more. There should be no difference in pitch.Tone maybe, and volume.The actual sound (word, vowel etc.) will come out sounding different as the mouth opens,but that shouldn't affect the pitch. With some sounds it is easier to sing them higher(in pitch) than others, but I don't think that's what you're asking.You aren't confusing changing the speed of a recording but keeping its pitch,as on a computer,are you?

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