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Editing audioDigital audio fundamentals ► Example—a guitar string

When a finger picks a guitar string, the entire string starts to move back and forth at a certain rate. This rate is called the frequency of the vibration. Because a single back and forth motion is called a cycle, we use a measure of frequency called cycles per second, or cps. This measure is also known as Hertz, abbreviated Hz. Often the frequency of vibration of an object is very fast, so we can also express the frequency in thousands of cycles per second, or kilohertz (abbreviated kHz)
The actual distance the string moves is called its displacement. This is proportional to how hard the string is plucked. A greater displacement results in a louder sound.
If the simple back-and-forth motion of the string was the only phenomenon involved in creating a sound, then all stringed instruments would probably sound much the same. We know this is not true, of course; the laws of physics are not quite so simple. In fact, the string vibrates not only at its entire length, but at one-half its length, one-third, one-fourth, one-fifth, and so on. These additional vibrations (overtones) occur at a rate faster than the rate of the original vibration (the fundamental frequency), but are usually weaker in strength. Our ear doesn't hear each frequency of vibration individually, however. If it if did, we would hear a multinote chord every time a single string were played. Rather, all these vibrations are added together to form a complex or composite sound that our ear perceives as a single tone.
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