Difference Between Tone and Pitch

Music and music lovers are found at every nook and corner of the world. After a stressful day or an emotionally unstable day, one would only require the right type of music to calm down from the wrong high.

Music is known for their variety when it comes to choice since it ranges from jazz, healing to rock n roll.

The difference in each music is due to a difference in each of their attributes. Often one may come across the terms pitch and tone when it comes to comparison between two genres of music.

But what are they and what do they determine? It is necessary to know if we need the right kind of music for us.

Tone vs Pitch

The difference between Pitch and Tone is that pitch only determines the shrillness of the voice whereas tone determines the quality and the intensity of sound and the overall music.

Tone vs Pitch

Pitch is usually defined as the shrillness of the voice or the instrument. This is in turn determined by the frequency of the sound used and depending on how high the frequency is, the shrillness also increases.

The pitch in a piece of music should always be perfect as imbalances in pitch can be easily recognized.

Tone, on the other hand, is the quality of the music produced. This depends on various factors like strength, intensity and the pitch of the voice or instrument. It is often the tone of a singer or instrument that draws our attention to it.

Tone doesn’t need to be perfect but grammatical errors and lexical are applicable to tone.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPitchTone
MeaningThe shrillness of a voice that depends on the frequency of the voice or instrument.The quality, the strength and the emotion being portrayed by a voice or an instrument.
Depending factorFrequency of the voicePitch, strength, intensity and quality of the music
DeterminesDetermines the frequency or the shrillness of the soundDetermines the quality of the sound and the overall music
Dependence on grammatical errorsNot applicableApplicable
PerfectionHas to be perfectNeed not necessarily be perfect

What is Pitch?

Pitch defines the frequency or the shrillness of one’s voice or instrument. The right pitch in music would be able to deliver the right emotion. Since pitch depends on frequency, one can say that if the frequency is higher then the pitch is also higher.

Everyone has a natural pitch when they speak. Some people have a generally low pitch and their voices sound more hoarse and deep whereas others have a higher pitch than normal.

These people often tend to have a sweet or a shrill voice that is deemed perfect for singing.

The pitch can be determined only if the frequency is clear and stable enough to be recognized. The concept of higher and lower notes in music is based on the high and low pitch which in turn depends on the clarity of the frequency.


What is Tone?

The tone is defined as the quality of the voice or instrument that is used in music. The quality of the music is usually defined by their pitch, intensity and strength of the music.

Though the tone of music does not need to be perfect, they should not have any grammatical errors and lexical are also applicable.

This means that one should always keep in mind that using the right tone for the right words without errors would give a great impact on the listener.

The tone is not only used for music. They are also used in daily conversations. The right tone can be used to deliver the right message and emotion. Sometimes, it is easier to guess a person’s raw emotions by the tone they use, rather than their words.

Tone helps to differentiate the base voice of different individuals. The factor that helps us decide our favourite singer. The natural voice of a person is determined by the tone they use.

tone 1

Main Differences Between Pitch and Tone

  1. Pitch describes the shrillness of a sound whereas the pitch describes the quality, the strength and the emotion being portrayed by the sound. The sound can be either a voice or an instrument.
  2. The pitch depends only on the frequency. The lower the frequency is, the lower is the pitch and vice versa. The tone is dependent on the pitch, strength, intensity and quality of the music.
  3. Pitch is used to determine the frequency or the shrillness of the sound whereas the tone is used for depicting the overall emotion and quality of the sound.
  4. Grammatical errors and lexical are not applicable for pitch. On the other hand, since tone shows the overall emotions of the music, it is dependent on grammatical errors and lexical.
  5. The wrong pitch can cause the song or the tune of the music to change and sometimes even become unpleasant to the ears. But in the case of tone, a slight difference in between is usually not noticed. They are not considered as a flaw but rather as an improvisation of the music.
Difference Between Tone and Pitch


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001002771200100X
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2000-03445-007
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