Did you know that some musical instruments can reach astoundingly high pitches of 5,000Hz? That’s nearly out of the range of hearing for most humans.
One of the most distinguishing qualities of an instrument is its pitch. The vast difference in pitch between a tuba and a piccolo largely determines how each instrument is used in orchestration.
High pitch instruments are often used as soloists — and for a good reason. If you are not familiar with how certain instruments fall within the pitch range, we’ll explore that important topic below.
What Are High Pitch Instruments?
Are you wondering, “What are high pitch instruments?” Pitch refers to the musical quality of sounding high, low, or somewhere in the middle. One common example is a string instrument.
Violins play in the upper-most range of the orchestra and have the highest pitch of any stringed instrument. Violas fall slightly below. In the lower range of the string orchestra are the cellos and double bass.
What makes an instrument high pitched is a combination of factors that include the instrument’s size, shape, and the material that it is made from.
In scientific terms, pitch directly correlates to frequency. Hertz is the unit of measurement.
When a string vibrates, scientists measure the rate of vibration. A measurement of 100 hertz, for example, refers to 100 vibrations per second.
The human ear can perceive roughly 20 to 20,000 hertz. Next, we’ll give examples of instruments with high pitches starting with the highest pitch instruments. Many of the instruments listed below are taught at the Sloan School of Music.
The piccolo is a member of the woodwind family. The instrument looks similar to a flute but with a much smaller and shorter body. This diminished size is what allows the piccolo to reach incredibly high frequencies of 5,000 Hz.
The piccolo has an impressive range. On the lower end, the woodwind instrument can reach 630Hz. Piccolos are often given solos because the woodwind instrument easily stands out, even among dozens of performing instruments.
Marching and military music often feature this small but important instrument.
Pretty much every great composer was a virtuoso pianist or amateur pianist. The piano is one of the few instruments that is as much at home as a solo instrument as in an ensemble.
Technically a percussion instrument, the long strings of the piano have evolved over centuries to produce the majestic tones that it is renowned for. The lowest note on the piano is an A (several octaves below middle C), while the highest note on a standard 88-key piano is a C.
The piano is also one of the few instruments that span two clefs: treble and bass. As complicated as the instrument is, millions of children enjoy taking piano lessons in the United States.
Another popular high pitched stringed instrument is the violin. Of all the examples of high pitched instruments, the violin may easily be the most popular and widely played.
The modern violin is several hundred years old. Fashioned primarily from wood, the violin has four strings that a musician bows. A special sticky material called resin, which coats horse hairs, brings the violin to life.
The beautiful sound and dynamic range of the violin have made the instrument a popular centerpiece for concertos.
The xylophone is a small instrument that has bars made of wood or metal. It shares the same instrumental family as the drum set. The bars are struck with a mallet to produce sharp, crisp tones.
The smallest bars produce the highest pitches. A xylophone can produce tones as high as 3,500Hz.
Marimba (2,100 Hz)
A marimba is relatively large and functions similarly to a xylophone. The bars of a marimba are typically made of wood and sit above resonating pipes that magnify the volume of the sound.
Compared to a xylophone, a marimba is more mellow in timbre. While set in a lower pitch range, a marimba can still reach tones of up to 2,100Hz.
The clarinet is a long wooden instrument with a single reed at one end. The woodwind instrument is capable of generating long, melodious lines.
The range of the clarinet is quite impressive. On the lower end, the instrument can reach a pitch of around 200 Hz. Under the control of an adept performer, the instrument can reach pitches of up to 2,000Hz.
Human Voice (1,000Hz)
The oldest instrument known to man is the human voice. The range of any singer is based on physiological factors and the extent of training the singer has gone through.
Sopranos are prized for their sonorous and high-pitched voices that can reach up to 1,000Hz. While anyone can enjoy singing, it can take several years for a professional singer to hone their craft through singing lessons.
Trumpets are the belters of the brass family. When composers need a melodic line to cut through a brass or string orchestra, trumpets are often given that job. Part of the trumpet’s power derives from its relatively high range.
The range of a trumpet player depends on the skills of the performer. Most trumpets can reach upwards of 988Hz.
Schedule Your Piano Lesson Today
High pitch instruments play a special role. Many of the most famous and most popular instruments are considered high pitch instruments.
Are you interested in learning some of the instruments described in this article? At Sloan School of Music, we make learning music fun and exciting. Our state-of-the-art facility is staffed by experienced and knowledgeable teachers.
To schedule a music lesson or to stop by for a guided tour, contact one of our team members today!