The Pitch of Speech

Speech is musical. Or it can be. Obviously someone who speaks in a monotone is a bit boring to listen to. But speech with various tones is more musical and hence more expressive. To illustrate this here are some examples of the word “hello”. We’ve recorded them and then analysed the frequency spectrum using “Overtone Analyzer” below. See if you can match them up! Or if you want to cheat you can go straight to the answers here.

Hello Normal

Hello Low

Hello Chirpy

Hello Greeting

Hello Question

Match them up with these spectrum analyses. We’ve fiddled with the contrast so the harmonic overtones are in blurred red with the fundamental frequency the line in blue. Time from left to right is less than a second. On the left scale you will see the frequency from around 100Hz at the bottom to 1000Hz at the top, and also the equivalent note on a piano keyboard. The pitches we tend to use for children’s voices centre around F4 to A4.

Pitch analysis A
Pitch analysis B
Pitch analysis C
Pitch analysis D
Pitch analysis E

Answers are on a separate page here.