Friday, June 9th, 2023

Conclusion – Acoustics of Music – Part 8


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Scales in Music – A Tonal System

Conclusion – Acoustics of Music – Part 8

Conclusion – Acoustics of Music – part 8 ends the mini-series. It is also part 8 in the overall Scales in Music – A Tonal System program continuing on in part 9 of the larger series. Within this article we will briefly review the seven parts of the total mini-series on the Acoustics of Music.

The Principals – Included within the science of acoustics are several principals which when understood broaden your understanding about sound and opens up more possibilities for you when working in various positions within the music industry.

The necessary fundamental principals to understand from these articles include the following;

1)      Frequencies – The concept of measuring sound created by the undulations or variations in air pressure which the human ear translates to our brain which in turn translates these air pressure variations into the sounds that we hear. Frequency is one of the main concepts in acoustics which has a direct impact on the character of sound. The characteristics of frequency demonstrate that sound can be viewed as a sine wave which can be measured using specific tools such as the oscilloscope. Each frequency thus measured allows us to place them linearly and sequentially in a numeric fashion so as to see the relationships between them. By using various tools we can inspect them and make subtle corrections or modifications to them as needed. Frequencies are measured in Hertz (Hz).

2)      Amplitude – The loudness of sound has a direct impact on the condition or health of our physical ear. In relationship to the health condition of our ears, the audible range of human hearing falls between 20 dB and 20,000 dB. Not only can we measure the loudness of sound we can also manipulate it when mixing and mastering music or when working with other sound applications. Amplitude is measured in decibels (dB). Amplitude is also another of the fundamental principals of sound.

3)      Overtones – Most of the sound we hear is made up of a complex collection of sounds rather than a pure tone or single frequency. The sound structures include the fundamental tone as well as harmonic divisions of the fundamental tone. When we create music we should consider this fact. Complex sound structures are possible to view using specialized equipment such as the FFT meter and the 3D Analyzer. Using tools such as these allows us to finely tune the sounds to our liking and to remove unwanted sound in an audio mix.

Additional Comments – Each of the fundamental principals of sound has a direct impact on the characteristics of the sound we hear. Each is separate and at the same time collectively they allow us to perceive the subtle differences of sound and thus cannot be separated from one another.

There are other factors which have an influence on the character of sound such as; the type of instrument used to produce it, the duration of the sound, the type of articulation being employed when performing a sound, among many other things. All of them are subordinate to the fundamental principals discussed throughout these papers. However, I must add that each is important unto itself when doing the act of creating the desired sounds you are seeking.

In a previous paper I discussed the concept of duration as being a fundamental principal underlying sound. However, after doing some additional research and careful thinking I have determined that it is a subset of these fundamental principals, rather than being a fundamental principal itself, as it describes how long the sound lasts rather than describing an underlying principal of the sound itself. I still believe it has an impact on how we perceive sound but only as a function of time.

Collectively, the Acoustics of Music principals provide a base foundation which will enhance our understanding about musical scales and the resulting music being created from them.

I want to repeat that these articles do not represent all there is to know about acoustics nor do they provide an all inclusive study on the impact to the human psyche. The article series Acoustics of Music was written to convey the key fundamental principals which will aid greatly in understanding what sound is , how to analyze it and the potential impact of its use and influence.

Further they were written to set a foundation in order to deepen ones appreciation of scales in music and finally to provide the foundation for the overall article series Scales in Music – A Tonal System to help explain this closed and effective system for understanding music.

Part 9 of this series provides a glossary of terms used throughout the series for reference should you need this support.

Please proceed to Part 9, Glossary of Musical Terms.

Thank you for taking the time to review this series of articles. I hope you have found value in doing so. If you know of anyone who might benefit from this series of articles please refer them to it.

Thanks again!

Don Rath Jr.

StringTunes – Music to Soothe Your Soul!

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

To proceed to Acoustics of Music directory for the listings within the mini-series, please proceed to Acoustics of Music – Part 1 – Series Introduction.

Valuable Resource

As a service to the Acoustical Society of America, Acoustics.org has made available a very cool resource for furthering your study in acoustics. Please fell free to visit acoustics.org for extensive research in the study of acoustics.

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