The Music Effect: Music Physiology and Clinical Applications

By Daniel J. Schneck; Dorita S. Berger | Go to book overview

chapter 4
Principles of Physiology
and the Elements of Sensory
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We know absolutely nothing about physiology, and I can prove it: if
we knew anything about physiology, physiology textbooks wouldn't
be so thick!

Y. C. Fung, University of California at San Diego


Introduction

Chapter 3 was devoted to the basic physics of energy and vibration, and although the examples dealt with mechanical vibrations that can be seen, the physical principles involved are exactly the same at any scale of perception, including those that cannot easily be visualized. At the level of perception that involves sound energy, the ball dribbler might just as well be the vibrating tongs of a tuning fork, or any other sound generator, such as a musical instrument or one's vocal cords. The "ball" then becomes the various molecules of air that surround the vibrating fork and are thereby struck by it; and one's ear drum takes the place of the "ground" that the ball strikes as a result of its having been driven there by the dribbler (actually, since the ear drum is not rigid, the analogy is closer to a trampoline, rather than a solid surface). So, one now "hears" the vibrating molecules being driven by the tuning fork, rather than "seeing" a bouncing ball being dribbled by an athlete. The physics of what's happening is exactly the same in both cases, and the corresponding attributes of this physics (frequency, amplitude, and so on), defined in Chapter 3, carry over verbatim.

In the remainder of this book our attention turns to how the human body, driven by the vibrations inherent in the elements of music (adequate stimuli),

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