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In acoustics, a beat is an interference between two sounds of slightly different frequencies, perceived as periodic variations in volume whose rate is the difference between the two frequencies. With tuning instruments that can produce sustained tones, beats can readily be recognized. Tuning two tones to a unison will present a peculiar effect: when the two tones are close in pitch but not yet identical, the difference in frequency generates the beating. The volume varies like in a tremolo as the sounds alternately interfere constructively and destructively. When the two tones gradually approach unison, the beating slows down and disappears, giving way to full-bodied unison resonance. This phenomenon manifests acoustically. If a graph is drawn to show the function corresponding to the total sound of two strings, it can be seen that maxima and minima are no longer constant as when a pure note is played, but change over time: when the two waves are nearly 180 degrees out of phase the maxima of each cancel the minima of the other, whereas when they are nearly in phase their maxima sum up, raising the perceived volume. Musicians commonly use interference beats to objectively check tuning at the unison, perfect fifth, or other simple harmonic intervals. Piano and organ tuners even use a method involving counting beats, aiming at a particular number for a specific interval.The composer Alvin Lucier has written many pieces which feature interference beats as their main focus. Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi, whose mature style is grounded on microtonal oscillations of unisons, extensively explored the textural effects of interference beats, particularly in his late works such as the violin solos Xnoybis (1964) and L'âme ailée / L'âme ouverte (1973), which feature them prominently (note that Scelsi treated and notated each string of the instrument as a separate part, so that his violin solos are effectively "quartets of one-strings" where different strings of the violin may be simultaneously playing the same note with microtonal shifts, so that the interference patterns are generated).

 

 
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Keywords
Beats  sound  
 
 About This Video
 
 Subject Physics
 Category Demonstration
 Duration 00:04:44
 Views 3555
 Added 26-08-09
 Contributor    reberg
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