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B Difference between note, tone and mode

  1. Sep 26, 2016 #1
    In physics, wave mechanics and vibration specifically, do the terms note, tone and mode mean the same thing or do they refer to difference things? Also what does the mode of oscillation exactly mean?
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2016 #2


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    I don't think those are physics terms, they are music terms. Physics terms are frequency, amplitude, wavelength, etc.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
  4. Sep 26, 2016 #3
    I am asking the difference between them from a physics perspective.
  5. Sep 26, 2016 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    They are still music terms.
  6. Sep 26, 2016 #5


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    IIRC a "tone" in music is a pure frequency in physics. A "note" produced by a musical instrument, e.g. by plucking a string, is a complex superposition of pure tones: the fundamental and its various overtones. Their relative amplitudes determine the "timbre" of the sound which distinguishes the various instruments. A "mode" in music is a type of "scale" (sequence of allowable notes). This is different from a "mode" in physics, which usually means a "mode of vibration" or "mode of oscillation", i.e. a particular standing-wave pattern on a string, drumhead, etc.
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