Music Theory and Composition : Music Theory and Composition

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Acoustics of Music – Part 1 – Series Introduction


Acoustics of Music – Part 1 – Series Introduction

Acoustics of Music - Main Article Photo - Scales

Scales in Music – a Tonal System

Acoustics of Music Introduction

Welcome to the opening article in the series titled “Acoustics of Music Introduction”. It is my hope that those of you who reach to this series can invest enough of your time to review the entire collection of articles presented here. I sincerely hope that you find value and that you find this series an excellent resource to further build upon your existing knowledge or to begin establishing a solid basis for understanding the acoustical characteristics of sound. I would appreciate your efforts to suggest or to encourage others who you feel would gain from this presentation to stop in for a visit. Thank you for your time!

Acoustics of Music – Opening Comments

I remember when I first introduced the scales in music and when I began to compose music. The scales were originally introduced to me by my grade school teacher while learning to play the flute-o-phone. I had learned a lot about notes and how to play them but what was missing was an understanding of what made it possible to not only understand the basics of performing music but for initiating my interest in the creation of music as well. I wanted to know the acoustics of music and the underlying principals of it.

Further, and more important to me was the answer to this question; what are the underlying principals and tools needed to create this thing called music, from a composer’s perspective, especially one who has delved into the digital world of music production?

My attempts to answer that question have led me to understand more about the structures and characteristics of sound as well as the use of musical scales. My continued efforts to learn everything I could about scales and music composition resulted in what I am now referring to as a Tonal System – Scales in Music. That is, a closed system of the structures used in music for formulating new compositions, understanding existing music in more detail and deepening my appreciation for music. Even though the system itself is a closed system, it offers an unlimited sonic arena in which to play and to create music.

For anyone interested in learning that information, you will find this article series useful. These fundamentals are and remain the relevant foundation for enhancing your appreciation of music, for maximizing your abilities for engineering sound and for creating music.

Acoustics of Music Introduction – Prerequisite Study

In recent articles posted on this site, I have presented information about various fundamental aspects of music including information about the basic characteristics of sound, tempo, the grand staff, notes and note values, etc. You will find them useful as adjunct studies or prerequisite studies for this new series about acoustics. I believe they can serve as a well rounded introduction to music and/or to provide a decent review for others who have a stronger background in music and composition or for those who simply wish to brush up on relevant information.

Certainly, in the least, this collection of articles can help you to broaden your understanding of the fundamentals of sound and of music, to come to know many of the tools a composer uses in his or her craft and to extend your overall appreciation of music in a general sense.

Lastly, it is possible that through these articles you can be so creatively aroused as to awaken in you that unique desire to compose your own music. On that basis, it would thrill me to know that I was instrumental in causing that to happen.

Acoustics of Music Introduction – Overview

The title of this article series is Scales in Music – a Tonal System, Acoustics of Music. This set of articles is the first part of a collection of articles to be written about the structures and concepts used in music and music composition. Therefore, it is a chapter in essence of a much larger collection of articles related to music.

Acoustics of Music Series

With that said this nine part article series Acoustics of Music takes a different and slightly more advanced approach than my original article titled Basic Characteristics of Sound. It will broaden your understanding of the key and relevant knowledge that is vital and useful as you advance your current knowledge of music, begin a new study of music and/or to pursue and further your interests in composing more and hopefully better music.

What I hope to convey to you is an understanding of how a collection of tones or notes, when grouped together, within specific limitations, make up a useful and musical tonal system that enables composition and the performance of music. In order to do that, we must first begin by looking at the biological mechanism, the human ear, which receives external sound and causes our brain to understand the differences in the characteristics of that sound.

We will then proceed with reviewing the main principals within the field of acoustics that play an important role in music and music making. These presentations will demonstrate the underlying concepts of the characteristics of sound. This series is a more scientific approach to deepen your understanding about them. They are also the fundamental concepts necessary to know when working with sound as a business owner or an employee in such areas as mastering music, restoring sound tracks, engineering samples, manipulating recorded sound, mixing and mastering music and other work related to sound.

The complete study of sound, specifically as an in depth study of the science of acoustics, goes way beyond the intended scope of this article series however we believe it is necessary to provide some of the fundamental and essential information relative to the study of music and music production, all of which are parts of this articles series. The more you advance along your musical journey the more you will want to learn more about them. So, based upon your interests, if you haven’t already, I would urge that you consider the study of acoustics.

Whenever possible and appropriate we will provide throughout this series of articles, photos, sound clips and short videos demonstrating the concepts being discussed. We feel this multimedia approach will help to solidify your understanding of the concepts being presented.

Lastly, throughout the articles are links to external and additional resources for you to continue researching any concepts and principals in music you are interested in looking further into. In most cases they will be to educational resources rather than simply blog post made by others. Whenever possible, these links will include; lectures at colleges and universities, videos presenting the concepts further and other links of value.

Acoustics of Music Series – Article Links Info

All of the articles included in the series Acoustics of Music are now posted and complete with the exception of the Glossary of Musical Terms as that post is linked to the entire series Scales in Music – A Tonal System and will be periodical revised.

Hopefully this introduction page will serve you as a table of contents does in a book. This will help you to more easily navigate to the specific article you wish to study or review. Also, I have added a new category which was set up to make it easier to find the series no matter what page you are on in this website. It is in the right sidebar and it is simply called Categories.

I hope you find value in this article series and that you will help get the word out about it. I have included the ability for you to share these presentations with others in your network through typical social means.

Please feel free to come back when you are in the neighborhood to review the content of the whole series.

Acoustics of Music Article Links

Series Introduction – Part 1 – This is the part you are reading now.

Audible Range of Human Hearing – Part 2 – is a basis point, human hearing. Without the ability to hear sound creating music and enjoying music must be done through another modality than through hearing. We will explore the two main limiting factors that become our strengths in music composition and in our enjoyment of music.

Acoustic Principals – Frequencies – Part 3 – begins with a closer look into one of the main principals of acoustics, frequency. This principal provides a strong foundation for understanding sound and it establishes a means for the discovery of how musical scales are created.

Chart of Frequencies – Part 4 – is an extension of Part 3. It includes a really cool chart showing all of the frequencies in each of eight octaves of sound. Within this article you will also discover the commonalities and the differences between the frequencies or notes used in music.

Fast Fourier Transform – Part 5 – For those not knowledgeable about this interesting technological tool, this introduction certainly will allow you to not only become familiar with it in a basic sense but it will help you to understand how sound engineers actually work with sound frequencies and their waveforms to “tweak” the characteristics of sound. The article demonstrates a unique comparison of frequencies.

Acoustic Principals – Amplitude – Part 6 – describes the principal of amplitude or the principal of loudness as related to sound and presents another very cool tool that assists in engineering sound.

Acoustic Principals – Overtones – Part 7 – adds more information about the overtones within the sound spectrum beyond that included in the article Characteristics of Sound. You will also discover the harmonic relationships of the sounds produced on a guitar string as well as the basic methods of producing sound on various musical instruments.

Conclusion – Part 8 – concludes this series which focuses on acoustics of music. It also includes a brief summary and additional comments.

Glossary – Part 9 – defines some of the important words used within this series to help in your understanding of the language of music and music making.

The nine parts of the article series beginning with Acoustics of Music Introduction will help to set into place a solid foundation based upon principals of acoustics setting the foundation for us to proceed to discover scales in music and it puts us on the pathway for discovering the complete tonal system. They are collectively the first “section” if you will, for understanding scales in music and the bigger tonal system in music which is the main purpose of this series of articles as a whole.

Future Plans

Moving forward from a basic study of the acoustics of music I am planning to post, over time, additional “sections” to enhance your overall knowledge of music and music composition. A brief description of some of those sections is as follows –

Acoustics of Music Introduction is the first article series in Scales in Music – A Tonal System.

Music Theory – Level 1 is the second “section” of Scales in Music – A Tonal System which encompasses the basics of music, several composer tools such as notes, rests, repeats, brackets and braces, dotted notes and rests as well as other articles setting the stage for the next series, Music Theory – Level 2. Collectively, there are thirteen articles in the Music Theory – Level 1  series.

Music Theory Level 2, the third “section” of Scales in Music – A Tonal System, will continue the study of the basic music theory concepts including; dynamics and time signatures.

Music Theory Level 3, the fourth “section” of Scales in Music – A Tonal System, will be advancing the study of music theory to include using “expression” and its related symbols, performance techniques,the chromatic scale, scale degrees and two applications related to accidentals.

Music Theory – Level 4, the fifth “section” of Scales in Music – A Tonal System, proceeds with presentations about the diatonic major scale, enharmonic notes and the beginning of the study on meter or rhythm.

Plus More! – Additional “sections” will include studies in; the circle of fifths, intervals, triads, chord development, understanding chord formulas, chords progressions, melody, harmony and an introduction to Digital Music Production. In total we are intending on providing a comprehensive group of articles covering all of the major tools used in the creation of music including the use of modern technology for music creation and music production.

We certainly hope you will find this particular series Acoustics of Music informative and useful as you pursue your musical interests.

Up Next

Acoustics of Music – Part 2 is about sound and human hearing and its limitations when it comes to the complete sound spectrum. I have included a hearing test in the article to assist in understanding your own hearing capabilities.

Please proceed with Acoustics of Music – Part 2 titled – The Audible Range of Human Hearing.

Mini Series Links

To return to the Music Theory – Level 1 directory for the article listings within the series, please proceed to Music Theory Section – Level 1 – Series Introduction – Part 10.

To continue onto Music Theory – Level 2 directory for the article listings within the series, please proceed to Music Theory Section – Level 2 – Series Introduction – Part 20

This is the Acoustics of Music directory which includes the listings within the mini-series. They are shown above.

Acoustics of Music – Part 1 – Series Introduction

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