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Kyle Pedersen

Period 6
Ms. Larson

What is Music?
After building my instrument, I have developed a conclusion. I discovered that the
best quality music is made by how much force of tension is acting upon the string. If
there isnt enough tension, then the ukulele wont make a sound. Tension is very im-
portant when playing a stringed instrument. My ukulele sometimes didnt have enough
tension on the strings, so it couldnt make a sound.
Every sound wave must have a medium to travel through. The medium is what
the sound waves use to travel through. Sound waves are expressed in longitudinal
waves, which move back and forth, as opposed to transverse waves, which move up
and down. For my ukulele, its sound waves traveled through the string in order to make
a sound. The waves vibrated through the string as they transferred energy. The string
makes standing waves, which are waves that appear to be not moving when they really
are. When the string is plucked, a wave is sent out, and when it reaches the final node,
its sent back and mirrors the other wave going the opposite direction. This makes the
waves appear to be still when its moving. Lets say my string is tuned to the 2nd har-
monic of C. When it is plucked, it will have the form of a wave. Since its the 2nd har-
monic, it will have 2 antinodes. The wave will travel until it reaches the end of the string,
then it travels the other way in a mirror image. The original wave and the mirrored wave
will cross over and appear to be a single still wave.
I changed the musical pitch of my instrument by experimenting with the length of
the string. I used my finger to hold down on the string and make it shorter. I came to
conclusion that the shorter the string, the higher the frequency. A higher frequency has
a smaller wavelength, which is the distance from crest to crest, or trough to trough. A
Kyle Pedersen
Period 6
Ms. Larson

higher frequency also means more waves per second. However, this decreases the pe-
riod, or number of seconds per wave. Also, I experimented with the tension. I played
around with the screws that tightened and loosened the strings. I found out that the
more tension on the string, the higher the pitch. I am even able to play simple songs on
it including Mary Had a Little Lamb. Other variables I didnt experiment with were the
mass of the string, and the material. Maybe I will if we do this again!
I designed my instrument out of a shoebox, cardboard, fishing line, screws, and
duct tape. The shoebox was a good component because it increased the amplitude of
the sound waves. Also, the cardboard used for the neck of the ukulele made it easy to
shorten the strings and play a variety of notes. My choice of fishing line for strings was
better than rubber bands because it didnt have elasticity. Other peoples guitars with
rubber bands didnt have the clean sound that fishing line had because the rubber
bands snapped against the body and didnt make a clear note. Finally the screws made
it easy to tune my guitar to certain notes. With a screwdriver, I simply tightened the
screw and the pitch became higher and vice-versa.
There is no real answer for how music is different than noise, but there are many opin-
ions. My opinion is that music is different because it has a specific combination of notes
that are pleasing to the ear. Also, each note/frequency is played for a certain amount of
time, which also changes how the melody is perceived. Meanwhile, noise is just random
frequencies at random durations. In music there are many factors that determine how
sound waves are heard. First of all, the frequency, or number of waves per second de-
termines the pitch. The higher the frequency, the higher the pitch. Also, the amplitude,
or the distance from rest position to trough or to crest, determines the loudness, meas-
Kyle Pedersen
Period 6
Ms. Larson

ured in decibels, of a wave. Finally, the medium the sound wave travels through deter-
mines the timbre. A sound wave will sound different if coming from a pipe rather than
coming from a string. Sound has many variables that can affect it, and so does music.
Some advice I have for an incoming Physics student working on this project
would be to put effort into the project. I tried to make my instrument have as little mis-
takes a possible. I also took my time and didnt make it look rushed. Also, I would sug-
gest making the strings tight and use fishing line. Tight strings produce a great sound
and the fishing line makes the instrument sound even better. Finally, I would advise
making your instrument tunable. An instrument that cant be tuned restricts how many
notes you can play. This is really important if you want to play a song on your instru-
ment. Some things I did well when making my instrument were adding tunable strings,
adding a hollow body to allow for a higher amplitude, building the body with effort, and
making it sturdy and durable. Of these successful parts of my instrument, I am mostly
proud of how clear the sound is and how the strings can be tuned.
If I could do something differently, I would have made the neck more stable. If I had lots
of extra time, I would have added extra frets. Making my instrument took lots of hard
work, and with that I am proud of it!