how to get the pitch of a triangle higher or lower?

  • 8
    You play it in a fast moving vehicle, while going past the listener. – Tim Nov 10 '17 at 17:44
  • Blobby are you asking if it's possible and how to permanently change the apparent pitch of a musical triangle? – Todd Wilcox Nov 10 '17 at 19:29
  • 1
    Are we talking isosceles or scalene, 'cos you can't alter the pitch of an equilateral... – Tim Nov 10 '17 at 21:13
  • You can't change the pitch, but it's possible to get a tremolo effect by flapping your hand in the space in the middle of the triangle. – Brian THOMAS Jan 25 '20 at 16:48

In order to change the pitch of a triangle you would need to change its mass. You could make the triangle flatter or sharper by making it larger or smaller respectively.


I know this might be stupid, but check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic

"On stringed instruments, harmonics are played by touching (but not fully pressing down the string) at an exact point on the string while sounding the string (plucking, bowing, etc.); this allows the harmonic to sound, a pitch which is always higher than the fundamental frequency of the string."

I haven't found anything on how idiophones vibrate, but i believe for a triangle it would be a transversal wave like a guitar string. With luck you may be able to hold it at any harmonic node to make a higher tone. Note that it will in that case sound muted and weak.

Also, to tune a triangle higher just remove material from the ends. Dunno why you would want this though.


Interesting question! There are actually a few ways you can do so, both permanent and non permanent. The easiest would be to play the triangle in various positions. Try playing in the center of one side and compare to the sound of playing in the corner. You can also try playing in the center of the whole bar verses near one of the ends. The next easiest is changing your striking stick. A heavier, thicker rod will sound a bit lower than a thinner, shorter rod. Different materials sound slightly different as well. Note that both of these methods won't produce a huge difference in sound. The only way to radically change its pitch is to alter the length or thickness of the body, and at that point you're better off investing in another triangle.

  • No matter what you hit it with or where you hit it, a triangle will have the same perceived pitch. – Brian THOMAS Jan 25 '20 at 16:46
  • @BrianTHOMAS Triangles don't generally have a perceived frequency in the way you describe. The triangle will have the same fundamental frequency, but by hitting it in different places, you can actually control the relationship between the volumes of the many nonharmonic overtones a triangle produces, thus slightly changing the perceived sound (and potentially the perceived frequency). It's analogous to dialing in a tone on an electric guitar - the fundamental is the same, but you can change the ratios of volumes of the overtones to control the sound. – user45266 Jan 25 '20 at 19:19

You can partially submerge it in a tub of water. As more of the triangle is under water, the pitch will change.


All sources I checked say that the triangle is of indefinite pitch. For example, the Percussive Arts Society has a fact sheet: https://www.pas.org/docs/default-source/pasic-archives/triangle.

You can get different effects from different size triangles, and with different playing techniques, but apparently it is not possible to change the pitch as such, given that there is no pitch as such.

(This is very different from another percussion instrument, the chimes. How many times have we heard the chimes come in sounding completely out of tune in relation to the rest of the ensemble.)

Here's another attempt:

The triangle doesn't have a pure pitch. It's a bit like banging a pot or a piece of scrap metal. But some triangles are higher and some are lower, and once it's been produced, the highness or lowness can't be changed.

Also some sound more beautiful than others. Generally the more beautiful sounding ones cost a lot more.

  • Indefinite pitch does not mean no pitch. A larger triangle is clearly lower in pitch than a smaller one. – phoog Jan 26 '20 at 17:19
  • @phoog - so it's a collection of frequencies? Interesting. But isn't the pitch of the triangle defined at birth, so to speak? With no way of being adjusted? – aparente001 Jan 26 '20 at 17:39
  • "a collection of frequencies": so is the tone of a violin. It's just that the ear does not resolve it into a definite pitch as it does with a violin. The pitch is more or less defined at birth, yes. You can make it higher by filing it down (reducing its mass or length) or lower I suppose by clamping weights to the ends. – phoog Jan 26 '20 at 18:06
  • @aparente001 The higher partials produced on a vibrating stiff bar are not multiples of the lowest frequency - see phys.uconn.edu/~gibson/Notes/Section4_1/Sec4_1.htm. So the perceived "pitch" of a triangle, which is weakly fixed about one-third of its length, isn't well determined. Vibrating strings have much better behaved partials. – Peter Jan 26 '20 at 18:52
  • @phoog - and ... – aparente001 Jan 26 '20 at 23:25

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