PHY103 Physics of Music -- Fall 2014
Class web site:
Note: the subdirectory "Sounds" that contains soundfiles used in class and called by the lecture notes
is password protected with user name phy103 and password to be given in class.
Alice Quillen, Bausch and Lomb Hall(B+L) 424, 275-9625, aquillen at pas.rochester.edu
Office hours: After class on Tuesday morning. After or during lab on most Thursday mornings. I am generally available in my office 9-5pm. However you can call or email me to set up a specific time if you would like to be sure to find me free. I will be giving lectures and attending 1 lab a week. If there is a request for additional or more formal office hours I will set up a time.
Lectures and Labs:
Class meeting time: Tuesdays 9:40-10:55AM.
Note lectures are usually only on Tuesdays. The first week
we will have a lecture on Thursday.
Lab meeting times: 2 hour sessions of about 10 students each. Once a week.
The First Class: Tuesday Sept 2, 2014.
The first week we will have lecture on both Tuesday and Thursday.
After Sept 4, lectures will be only on Tuesdays.
(except possibly the week of Oct 7)
Your First Lab:
At your lab time during
the week starting Tuesday Sept 9, 2014.
If you are having trouble registering please see me or email me
so I can make it possible for you to register.
You need to register for both class and a lab time (unless you are attending
the Thursday morning lab).
In this class we will explore the natural world of music
through experiments and demonstrations and by building and testing
our own musical instruments in the lab.
We will probe physics concepts
by searching for explanations for musical and acoustic phenomena.
We will seek
to understand the compromises involved in the elegant design of classical and folk musical instruments.
This year in the lab we will construct fretted monochords,
didgeridus and flutes.
Because of the experimental approach, this class is divided into 1 lecture and 1 lab a week.
Labs and the final student project are an important part of this class.
Lab reports are required to pass this class.
- Harmonic analysis, Timbre
- Normal modes and Resonance
- Musical scales, Temperament
- Propagation of sound waves
- Accoustics of musical instruments
- Loudness: measurement and perception
- Perception of sound and music
Teaching Instructors (TIís) and Lab Times
Lab times: We expect some adjustments in lab groups
the first week of class.
You must attend a weekly lab to complete this class.
We are expecting 2 lab groups of about 10 students each.
Depending upon enrollment there will might be more or fewer labs.
Labs will start the second week of classes.
The first lab will be during the week starting Monday, Sept 8, 2014.
There are 2 TI's this year:
Ivory Stokes and Dahyun Chung.
As long as no lab is too crowded,
you can attend a different lab time on some weeks than other weeks.
Weekly lab times will be among the following times:
TI/TA Office hours: Available during their lab time. At other times set up a time to see them.
Please let the TI/TAs know if you plan to be later than 1/2 hour to your lab time or if you would like to come at a different time one week.
- Tuesday 2:00 - 4:40 pm, with Dahyun Chung
- Wednesday 2:00 - 4:40 pm, with ?
- Wednesday 4:50 - 7:30 pm, with ?
- Thursday 9:00 - 10:55 am, with Ivory Stokes
Lab Manual: As the lab manual contually needs revision it will not be printed and available at the bookstore. The uptodate version
should be available here
In place of a midterm,
there could be a concert at the end of the year,
organized by this class, that features music from members
of this class, sometimes showing instruments we have made and music played by members of the physics and astronomy department and invited guests. The students of this class have in past performed with
innovative instruments in other locations on campus.
Recommended and available at bookstore
Also put on reserve at Physics Optics and Astronomy Library (B+L374) :
- Musical Instrument Design : Practical Information for Instrument Making,
by Bart Hopkin, Tucson, Ariz. : See Sharp Press, c1996.
Call Number: ML460.H793 M987 1996
This book illustrates excellent ideas for instruments to create in the lab. The introduction to
acoustics is clear and concise and illustrates how a good understanding of acoustics and physical concepts coupled
with hard work, good craftmanship, trial and error and persistent redesign can lead to the creation of high quality
The books on reserve contain some of the material also covered in lecture
and will help you write more informed lab reports.
Most similar university classes country are more lecture based and less
lab based than this class. Some of them use the
last 4 on the reserve list to introduce musical acoustics.
- An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing,
by Brian C. J. Moore,
5th ed., Amsterdam ; Boston : Academic Press, c2003.
Call Number: WV 270 M821i 2003
- Measured tones : the interplay of physics and music, by Ian Johnston,
Bristol, UK ; Philadelphia : Institute of Physics, 2002.
Call Number: ML3805 .J63 2002
- Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics,
by Author H. Benade,
New York : Dover Publications, 1990.
Call Number: ML3805 .B328 1990
- The Physics of Sound,
by Richard E. Berg and David G. Stork,
3rd ed., Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Pearson Prentice Hall, c2005.
Call Number: QC225.15 .B47 2005
- Physics and the Sound of Music,
by John H. Rigden,
2nd ed., New York : J. Wiley, c1985.
Call Number: ML3805 .R567 1985
- The Physics of Musical Instruments,
by Neville H. Fletcher and Thomass D. Rossing,
2nd ed. New York: Springer 1998.
Call Number: ML3805 .F58 1998
- Why You Hear What You Hear: An Experiential Approach to Sound, Music, and Psychoacoustics,
by Eric J. Heller, Princeton University Press 2012.
- Midterm Exam or Concert: -- 20%.
In the past a midterm has been based on
identification of sounds from their spectral and waveform views.
We could do an essay exam critiquing videos of acoustic phenomena (good physics
Or we may replace the exam with performance in a concert
the end of the term. If so
to get credit you must have your name on the program.
The concert would be short (10-15 minutes).
A few minutes per lab group and focused
on experimental music made with a mix of traditional and home-made instruments.
Labs at the end of the term would include rehearsal time or time to prepare
for the midterm.
- Lab Reports or other assignments (8 of 10 required)-- 60%
- Independent Project -- 20% If there is no concert then last class is
devoted project presentations. If there is a concert then project presentations
will take place during lab time along with rehearsal.
Late reports and assignments will not be accepted unless via prior
arrangement with the instructor. Please let the instructor know if you have a conflict or problem.
Assignments will rarely be accepted one week past the assigned due date.
Only 8 of 10 labs reports (or activities) must be submitted. It is difficult to set up multiple labs at the same
time, consequently students must complete the labs when they are scheduled. As you don't need
to complete every lab there should be no reason for make-up labs or late lab reports.
Try to start your lab reports during your lab period to make sure that you clearly understand your data! We are available to help with your lab reports.
Due Dates and where to turn things in
Lab reports are due 1 week after your lab period. They should be turned in before 9pm to
the mail box outside of B+L404.
Please do not email your lab reports to the professor or TA.
Only entire labs or exams (not parts of them) may be regraded.
Collaboration policy and Academic Honesty
Collaboration in this class is encouraged. However lab reports and the final project must be
written by the individual student. In the case of a collaborative final project, each student must have an specific part of
the project that he/she is responsible for.
Academic dishonesty is a serious violation of the trust upon which an academic community depends. Please
follow our university's academic honesty guidelines. Copying any part of a lab report is not allowed in this class.