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Inquiry-Based Labs in Musical Acoustics. M. S. Pettersen Washington & Jefferson College. “Good Vibrations:” a course in musical acoustics for non-majors. Goal: bring active learning into a class for non-science majors

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inquiry based labs in musical acoustics

Inquiry-Based Labs in Musical Acoustics

M. S. Pettersen

Washington & Jefferson College

good vibrations a course in musical acoustics for non majors
“Good Vibrations:” a course in musical acoustics for non-majors

Goal: bring active learning into a class for non-science majors

  • Studies show active learning methods are more effective (Laws; McDermott; Redish and Steinberg; Birk and Foster; etc.).
    • Students see and hear phenomena for themselves.
  • The best way to learn about science is to practice it
    • It’s fun, too!
which implies that the course should
… which implies that the course should:
  • Include the old-fashioned kind of experiments that students can see, hear, feel
  • Alternate bench-top experiments with measurements of real instruments, acoustics of campus auditoriums, etc.
    • Using Vernier Software’s Logger Pro
    • Using free software from the internet
  • Incorporate music listening
old fashioned experiments
Old-fashioned experiments

Siren disc Monochord (sonometer)

Melde’s apparatus Chladni plates

new fangled experiments using logger pro
New-fangled experiments using Logger Pro
  • Overtones
  • Inharmonicity in the piano
  • Percussion instruments and virtual pitch
  • Differences among the woodwinds
  • Sound envelope
  • Echoes
  • Auditorium acoustics
differences among the woodwinds
Differences among the woodwinds
  • Clarinet: odd overtones only (one end open, one end closed)
  • Saxophone: particularly strong second harmonic
  • Flute: almost pure fundamental
auditorium acoustics
Auditorium acoustics

Reverberation time is about 1 s

new fangled experiments using software electronic music
New-fangled experiments using software; Electronic music
  • Fourier synthesizer Java applet
  • Spectrogram software
  • Software synthesizer (electronic instruments)
  • .mp3 compression with MediaMonkey
  • Signal processing and sound editing with Audacity
fourier synthesizer java applet
Fourier synthesizer Java applet

http://www.phy.ntnu.edu.tw/ntnujava/viewtopic.php?t=33

spectrogram software
Spectrogram software
  • Aaaaaaaaaaa!
  • FFFFF

Note formants, overtones

listening
Listening
  • Bach Brandenburg #2: overtones on the Baroque (valveless) trumpet
  • Berlioz Requiem – Dies Irae (Tuba Mirum) – speed of sound
sources
Sources
  • Fourier synthesizer Java applet:
  • http://www.phy.ntnu.edu.tw/ntnujava/viewtopic.php?t=33
  • Spectrogram software:
  • http://www.visualizationsoftware.com/gram.html
  • Media Monkey audio format converter and .mp3 ripper:
  • http://www.mediamonkey.com/download.htm
  • Audacity sound editing and processing software:
  • http://audacity.sourceforge.net
  • Auditory Demonstrations CD:
  • http://asa.aip.org/discs.html
  • Evolution eKeys Keyboards:
  • http://www.zzounds.com
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