- This image shows the keyboard of a piano, which is a tonal instrument.
In music & acoustics, the term tone refers to a sound which is typically, but not necessarily, produced by musical instruments that has an easily distinguishable pitch and a mostly regular sound wave pattern. A tone can be seen as the opposite of a noise sound that has no easily distinguishable single pitch, and has an irregular and complicated sound pattern.
A tone is often thought of as a "musical" sound, because of its distinguishable pitch properties. Noises are not traditionally thought of as musical, but many musicians incorporate them regularly, and some use them exclusively for musical purposes. Most percussion instruments such as a snare drum produce sounds which are much closer to being noises than tones. Some genres of music are devoted to the use of noise for musical purposes (i.e. Noise Rock).
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