Acoustics of Music

Acoustics of Music

Acoustics of Music

Acoustics of Music

Excerpt

As human beings, we are so accustomed to the phenomena of sound that it never occurs to us to inquire into their causes. What makes sound?

We live in a world of things--material objects--which we cannot help shaking or moving slightly when we touch them or when we move around. Our footsteps shake the floor a bit. If we drop a ruler on the table, both ruler and table are given a slight quivering movement, called vibration. Such motions are usually too small and too rapid to be seen, but they are nevertheless present.

In addition to living among these more obvious surroundings of material things, we live at the bottom of an ocean of air. As Sir William Bragg says in his book, The World of Sound, we are constantly stirring this air, since we cannot move anything, not even our bodies, without moving the air in contact with them. If we strike a table, not only does the table quiver, but the air in contact with it receives a quiver which, once started, travels through the air in all directions in a way somewhat similar to the way a disturbance on a water surface will travel away in all directions on the surface till it becomes weakened and dies away.

Now, since we can hardly move without setting up a quivering motion in bodies, and through them in the air itself, it is natural that man and other forms of life should have been provided with sensitive organs to detect these air tremors, in order to warn them of approaching danger, if for no other reason. These organs are our ears, and when they detect an air tremor, we say we hear a sound, and we know that somewhere or other a quiver was imparted to the air, probably by some material body. Different material bodies impart different types . . .

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