Pitch is how high or low a note is.
- The term “pitch” refers to how high or how low a note is.
- Notes can be visualized on a staff:
- Treble staff with a treble clef (high notes)
- Bass staff with a bass clef (low notes)
- Grand staff = treble clef + bass clef
- Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, and do / A, B, C, D, E, F, and G are the note names
- Both instruments and voices can be high or low (or both)
Go to the “Extras” to check your understanding!
Staff, notes, and clefs
We use a musical staff to place notes on, so that we can see visually whether a note is high or low. We can also see its position in relation to other notes in a visual way.
There are two systems for naming notes on a staff. The first, invented by Guido d’Arezzo during the Medieval Era (around the year 1000) is: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. Later, around the 6th century, another system was invented, using the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.
Below is a chart showing the notes on a grand staff. A grand staff is a double staff, with a treble clef (high) on the treble staff, and a bass clef (low) on the bass staff.
Voices and instruments
Instruments and voices can be high, low, and everything in between. Women usually have higher voices than men (but not always.) Below are two videos highlighting singers on “The Voice” who have amazing low or high voices. Note that the high notes in the second video come near the end of the songs, so listen all the way through.
Some examples of high instruments are the piccolo (like a very small flute) and the celesta. Listen to a piccolo, in “Baby Elephant Walk” by Henry Mancini. Then listen to “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter, written by John Williams. The celesta plays the theme. It’s an interesting instrument; it looks like, and is played like, a piano but inside, instead of the hammers hitting strings, they hit metal bars. This gives the celesta its unusual sound.