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Let’s say the speed of sound is 343m/s and thus the wavelength of the note with frequency 440Hz is about 0.78 meters. If I played the same note through a medium where the speed of sound was doubled to 686m/s, how would this affect my pitch perception? Would the played note retain its frequency of 440Hz and result in a doubling of the wavelength thus retaining the same ‘pitch’ or would the perceived sound be twice as high?

What if the speed of sound was constantly increasing? How would that affect our perception of the pitch?

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When vibrations are transmitted from one medium to another, they don't change frequency. They only change their velocity and wavelength. So if you play a guitar on a hot day, its pitch is the same as normal despite the higher speed of sound.

But wind instruments contain air columns, so the vibrations originate at a different frequency when the speed of sound in the air column is changed. The wavelength is fixed by the length of the instrument, so if the velocity changes, so does the frequency.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. I didn’t quite understand the second part. Could you please elaborate? Also, as pitch is a direct consequence of frequency, would really long wavelengths in a really fast medium essential render the initial pitch unchanged? I’m only confused because for EM waves and sound waves, the wavelength seems to be a defining factor in associating the characteristic (which makes sense because higher frequency = lower wavelength) but in general terms is it more accurate to say that it’s the frequency that affects the characteristic and wavelength for most parts is a consequence? $\endgroup$ – user11845919 Dec 18 '19 at 1:36

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