Physics 341- Spring 2016

Physics of Music

The Course structure and content



There will be one midterm this year, toward the middle of Feb. in regular classroom at the regular class time.


There will be "problem solving" tutorials where you can come to ask questions about the material in the course. The time and place is to be determined to maximize your ability to come to it, and the TAs availability. The time will be arranged to be of maximal convenience to you and to the TA.

Note: I send emails to the class via the registrar's email lists for this course. Please make sure that you have registered your email with the university. Unfortunately some service providers see this as an indication that this is spam and dumps the mail into a junk, or spam, or other labeled folder. I do not know how to get around this as I do not want to give everyone everyone else's email, I do not want to enter all 50 separate email addresses as separate emails, but I want people to get them. Please remember to look into your junk/spam/... folder as well if you do not get the emails for this class.


Notes-- various reading throughout the year.

These are last year's notes at present and may be revised as we approach the lectures on these topics


(R=Rossing, B=Benade, The chapters do not cover the material in exactly the way that I do, but do cover what I cover)
Topics :
  1. Intro, Simple Harmonic oscillator; R2; B3.3+6.1
  2. SHO, damping, resonance;R2; B4.8+10.1-3+10.6
  3. Complex systems, Modes & nodes; R2;B6
  4. Freq-Pitch;R7;B5+15.3-4
  5. Amplitude-dB; R6;B13.2+13.8
  6. Fourier Transform (Fundamentals and Harmonics)
  7. Temperaments
  8. Sound, Sound transmission
  9. Ear, Hearing, and PsychoAcoustics
  10. Instruments and how they make their sounds
  11. Tuva Singit Singing
  12. Octave equivalence

Assignments and Solutions

The assignements and solutions are included in pdf form.They can be viewed with Acroread Acrobat Reader or if you run Linux, with gv. In the past, there were problems with Internet Explorer mangling the pdf files and randomly giving the "Does not start with %PDF-" error message. I have changed the pdf creator. All indications are that the problem was something within windows which beheads these files. Recent versions of Windows seem to be OK.
If downloading these files give the above errors please let me know. Also try: . Note that assignments are to be handed in on the due date. If handed in late, they will lose 5%/day until the solutions are posted which will usually be about 2 days after the assignements are due, after which time no marks can be given for the assignment.

If not handed in in class, put assignments into box on shelf outside my room (in 311 Hennings) labeled Phys 341. (Not into the metal sorting rack but into the box) The box is inside Rm 311 Hennings-- go right into the room up to the table, then turn right. The shelf is on your right. My office is straight ahead of you. Note that odd numbers are on the east side of the Hennings building and even numbers are on the west side. If you are near room 312 you are maximally far away from 311.

Readings (Whole Year )

These are suggested chapters in the texts for material which I covered last year which may throw light on my lectures. Note that you are responsible for the lecture content, but these chapters may help. They at times cover more than I did.

  • Rossing et al-- 3rd Edition
    3.1-5, 3.10-11,
    7.1-2, 7.8-10,
    8.1-4, 8.10-12,

  • Benade
    1.1, --Intro
    2.2,--Pitches and Freq
    3.1-4, --Vibration, plotting sound, oscilloscope,
    4.2,4.5,4.7,4.8,--Impulse ringing, addition of sounds, mode, decay, oscillation freq,period
    5.4-8,modes-string, whole number ratio, pitch preception
    6,-- modes and nodes
    7, -- Vibration recipie
    8.1-3,8.5 -- broad plectra, soft hammers
    9.4 -- Modes of drumhead or soundboard-- effects of thickness
    10.1,10.3,10.6,-- forced oscillation, resonance, Q
    11.1-4,11.6,11.9,--Room acoustics,
    12.2,12.3(p213-215)-- Room acoustics cont--Precedence,loudspeakers
    , 13.1-3, Loudness, dB, hearing threshold
    14.1,14.3,14.4--Pitch and Freq, tone, beats, musical intervals
    15.1,15.3,15.4,-- Reverberation time, Scales, Temperaments,
    16.1, 16.2(partial),16.4,16.7, Temperaments,
    17- Piano
    19.2,19.2(however his explanation of the voice negative resistance is suspect),19.3-5--Voice
    20.1,20.1,20.5,20.6,20.8 -- Brass (esp last part of transmission function
    which is what I called efficiency)
    21.1(first half), 21.2,-- Clarinet, Oboe ,21.4 explains one of the homework problems
    22.3(first three pages),22.4,22.6(first half), 22.7 is another homework problem--Flute
    23.1,23.2,23.4--Bowed String
    24.1,24.2(parts), --Violin
    26.4--Wolf notes on cello

    All Material on this page including all course notes, assignments, course notes, solutions on documents linked to from this page hosted on are copyright W. G Unruh. 1998-2016