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A TONE having more than a single FREQUENCY component. For instance, a tone consisting of a FUNDAMENTAL and OVERTONEs or HARMONICs, may be said to be complex.
If two TONEs are about 15 Hertz or less apart, INTERFERENCE will result from their similar though not exactly identical frequencies. Gradually they will move out of PHASE until at 180° destructive interference results, producing diminished loudness. When they move back into phase, constructive interference will produce increased loudness. Thus, beats are a form of AMPLITUDE MODULATION. As two frequencies are brought closer together, the beats will gradually slow down and disappear when they become identical.
The FREQUENCY content of a sound or audio SIGNAL, often displayed as a graphic representation of amplitude against frequency. The spectrum of a sound is a primary determinant of its perceived TIMBRE.
Although often employed interchangeably with ACOUSTICS, the term might better be restricted to the technology dealing with the practical applications of SOUND, as distinct from the pure science of acoustics. (It will be noted, however, that the contemporary acoustical engineer or acoustician is often mostly involved with the practical applications of sound.)