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Chapter 2T - Addi ti ve and vector synt hesis 2T

resolved into bigger or smaller quant ities of pu re sound, which are then said to be
the compo nents of the comp lex sound. To better understand th is phenomenon,
we can establish an analogy with optics. It is not ed that some colors are pure,
which is to say that th ey canno t be furt her decomposed into other colors (red,
orange, yellow, and down the spectrum to violet). Correspond ing to each of
these pu re colors is a certa in wavelength of light. If only one of the pu re colors
is present, a prism, w hich decomposes white light int o the seven colors of the
spectrum, wi ll show on ly the single color component. The same thing happens
w ith sound. A certain perceived pitch corresponds to a certain wavelength 2 of
sound. If no other frequency is present at the same moment, the sound will be
pure. A pure sound, as we know, has a sine waveform. "
(Bianchini, R., Ciprian i, A., 200 1, pp. 69-70)

The components of a comp lex sound sometimes have frequencies that are
integer multi ples of the lowest component freq uency in the sound . In t his case
the lowest component fr equency is called the fundamental , and the other
components are called harmonics. (A fundamen tal of 100 Hz, for examp le,
might have harmonics at 200 Hz, 300 Hz, 400 Hz, etc.) The specific compo nent
tha t has a fr equency that is tw ice that of its fundamental is called the second
harmonic , the component t hat has a frequency that is th ree ti mes that of the
fundamental is called the third harmonic , and so on. Wh en, as in the case
we are illustrat ing, the components of a sound are integer multiple s of the
f undamental, the sound is called a harmonic sound. We note that in a harmon ic
sound the frequency of the fundamental represents the greatest common divi-
sor of the fr equencies of all of th e components. It is, by defin ition , t he maximum
number that exactly divides all of the frequencies without leaving a remainder .
. .. . . . . . . .. . . . .. .. .. . . .. . . . . . ... . .. .. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
INTERACTIVE EXAMPLE 2A - HARMONIC COMPONENTS

If the pure sounds composing a complex sound are not integ er multipl es of the
lowest frequen cy component , we have a non-harmon ic sound and the compo-
nents are called non-harmonic components , or partials .

INTERACTIVE EXAMPLE 2B - NON-HARMONIC COMPONENTS

........ ..... ............ ........... ......... ... ........ ..

2 "The length of a cycle is called its wavelength and is measured in meters or in centimeters. This
is ih e space t hat a cycle physically o ccupies in the air, and we re sound actually visible, it would be
easy to measure, for examp le, w ith a tape measure ." (Bianchin i, R. 2003)
191

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