Vienna Talk 2015 on Music Acoustics
“Bridging the Gaps”     16–19 September 2015


Pitch shifts in wind instruments due to changes in air composition

Balasubramanian, Saranya and Kausel, Wilfried 

Proceedings of the Third Vienna Talk on Music Acoustics (2015), pp. 15–20


Our motivation is to understand the pitch deviation in a wind instrument that is caused by the introduction of orally expired air into a wind instrument. The effect of air composition, temperature, pressure and humidity on the speed of sound in air has been well studied for meterological purposes, and in this paper, we apply this robust model for calculating the speed of sound accounting for interaction between the gases involved and use it to calculate the acoustic impedance peaks and observe the shifts in the fundamental frequency and higher harmonics. In these simulations, the air composition and physical properties of air are chosen such that it closely mirrors playing conditions; and the pitch shifts are compared against experimental observations found in literature.


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  • Wind Instruments
  • Speed of Sound
  • Pitch
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Humidity
  • Temperature

  • Status
    reviewed paper

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