Catalogue 2016 - 2017

PHYS 156 Sound and Music


3 cr.


Any of following: PHYS 101, PHYS 103, PHYS 123, PHYS 133, CHEM 101, CHEM 105, METR 101, GEOL 101, or BIO 101.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the physical aspects of musical sound.  The goal of this natural sciences perspectives course is to provide course participants with a theoretical understanding of the physical basis of musical sound allowing for further research, music-making, or appreciation as listeners.  Beginning with the physical properties of sound waves such as wave speed, frequency and amplitude, we will examine how these affect musical concepts of pitch, timbre, mode, and consonance/dissonance.  We will look at mechanisms of sound production in various musical instruments and explore the effects of auditorium acoustics, electronic enhancement, and sound recording and reproduction, looking at the variety of ways in which physical phenomena are used to create music. (NSP)