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In music, position of a single sound in the complete range of sound; this quality varies with the number of vibrations per second (hertz, Hz) of the sounding body and is perceived as highness or lowness. A higher pitch has a higher number of vibrations. In Western music, standard pitches have long been used to facilitate tuning. A confusing variety of pitches prevailed until the 19th century, when the continual rise in pitch made some international agreement a matter of practical necessity. In 1939 the A above middle C was standardized as 440 Hz. See alsointerval; tuning and temperament.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on pitch, visit Britannica.com.