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The Physics of Music

I've just uploaded the PowerPoint and Word files for a mini module I've worked on over the last few years on the physics of music. It doesn't depend on much practical work, so I thought it might be worth sharing now, in light of the current 'situation.'

It does presume the use of the following - some which will now have to sterilised between uses, but I think that's still do-able.

  • a pc and data projector,

  • some speakers

  • a sonometer (or guitar)

  • tuning forks

  • a slinky

  • an oscilloscope (though there's a link to a virtual oscilloscope)

  • a piano or electric keyboard of some sort would help, but its not needed

The videos inserted into the PowerPoint can make it slow to run, so it might be easier to take them out. And obviously the choice of music is personal, so that could be varied. I tried letting the students pick the music once or twice the first few times I ran this (and they sometimes came up with interesting choices) but then I thought 'to hell with that! My class, my music!'

I have the benefit of having a great music department in my school, who have allowed me to borrow various extra bits and pieces of equipment over the years - but I suppose that's all become more complicated now...

It's obviously an area that could be expanded even more - to cover resonance, for example, or to go into more detail on standing waves. And if anybody wants to play around with the content and re-share it, that would be great.

Files are available here, down at the bottom of the page. I also shared them on sharingscience earlier.

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