A unit of subjectively estimated pitch. A sine wave with a frequency of 1000 hertz, 40 decibels above the listener’s threshold of hearing, has by definition a pitch of 1000 mels. A sound that a listener judges to be 2 times the pitch of a sound with a pitch of 1000 mels has a pitch of 2000 mels; a pitch judged half of a 1000-mel tone would be 500 mels.
The table below shows the pitch in mels of a pure sine wave at a few frequencies. Do not conclude from this table that there is a one-to-one mapping between the dominant frequency of a musical tone and its pitch. Although frequency is the most important factor in determining pitch, the sensation of pitch is also influenced by other factors.
IEEE Society on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing.
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Last revised: 3 May 2003.