“Everything is determined … by forces over which we have nocontrol. It is determined for the insects as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust – we all dance to amysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” – Albert Einstein
HIS MANUAL COVERS the physics of waves, sound, music, andmusical instruments at a level designed for high school physics. However,it is also a resource for those teaching and learning waves and sound frommiddle school through college, at a mathematical or conceptual level. Themathematics required for full access to the material is algebra (to includelogarithms), although each concept presented has a full conceptual foundation thatwill be useful to those with even a very weak background in math.
Solomon proclaimed that there is nothing newunder the Sun and of the writing of books there is noend. Conscious of this, I have tried to producesomething that is not simply a rehash of what hasalready been done elsewhere. In the list of references Ihave indicated a number of very good sources, someclassics that all other writers of musical acousticbooks refer to and some newer and more accessibleworks. From these, I have synthesized what I believeto be the most useful and appropriate material for thehigh school aged student who has neither abackground in waves nor in music, but who desires afirm foundation in both. Most books written on thetopic of musical acoustics tend to be either verytheoretical or very cookbook style. The theoreticalones provide for little student interaction other thansome end of the chapter questions and problems. Theones I term “cookbook” style provide instructions forbuilding musical instruments with little or noexplanation of the physics behind the construction.This curriculum attempts to not only marry the bestideas from both types of books, but to includepedagogical aids not found in other books.This manual is available as both a paper hardcopy as well as an e-book on CD-ROM. The CD-ROM version contains hyperlinks to interestingwebsites related to music and musical instruments. Italso contains hyperlinks throughout the text to soundfiles that demonstrate many concepts being developed.
As the student reads through the text, he or shewill encounter a number of different presentationmodes. Some are color-coded. The following is a keyto the colors used throughout the text:Pale green boxes cover tables and figuresthat are important reference material.NotesFrequencyinterval (cents)C
Table 2.8: Pythagoreanscale interval ratios
Light yellow boxes highlight derivedequations in their final form, which will be used forfuture calculations.