PHYS 1204

PHYS 1204

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2020-2021.

This course explores the physics of musical sound. How and what do our ears hear? How does that determine the kinds of sounds we find pleasant and not so pleasant? How is sound generated by strings, pipes, and plates, and what determines the characteristics – pitch, timbre, attack, consonance, or dissonance – of that sound? How do the major families of musical instruments (string, wind, reed, brass, percussion) and specific examples (violin, guitar, piano, flute, oboe, trumpet, chimes, pipe organ) work, and how does that affect how they are played and the sounds they produce? How do we generate sound when we sing, and how does that vary in different kinds of singing? What makes for a good concert hall or listening space? These are explained using physical and mathematical concepts including vibrations, standing waves, harmonic series, beats, spectra, and logarithms, and illustrated using demonstrations, audio clips, and musical selections from a wide variety of genres. This course is a Writing In The Majors course: both science writing and physics problem-solving skills are developed through weekly assignments. Student activities include hands-on investigations of musical instruments and field trips. At the level of The Science of Sound by Rossing, Moore, and Wheeler.    

When Offered Spring.

Distribution Category (PBS-AS, PHS-AS)

Comments Assumes no scientific background but uses high school algebra. Open to all students and suitable for non-scientists; does not serve as prerequisite for further science courses.

View Enrollment Information

Enrollment Information
Syllabi: 1 available
  •   Regular Academic Session.  Choose one lecture and one discussion. Combined with: MUSIC 1466

  • 3 Credits Stdnt Opt

  •  4871PHYS 1204  LEC 001

  • Instruction Mode: In Person
    All enrollment requests should be directed to physicsenrollment@cornell.edu
    Enrollment limited to students who are able to attend in-person classes in the Ithaca area.

  • 20066PHYS 1204  LEC 002

    • MWFOnline Meeting
    • Feb 8 - May 14, 2021
    • Thorne, R

  • Instruction Mode: Online
    All enrollment requests should be directed to physicsenrollment@cornell.edu

  •  4874PHYS 1204  DIS 201

  • Instruction Mode: In Person
    Enrollment limited to students who are able to attend in-person classes in the Ithaca area.

  •  4875PHYS 1204  DIS 202

  • Instruction Mode: In Person
    Enrollment limited to students who are able to attend in-person classes in the Ithaca area.

  • 20065PHYS 1204  DIS 203

    • WOnline Meeting
    • Feb 8 - May 14, 2021
    • Thorne, R

  • Instruction Mode: Online

  • 20067PHYS 1204  DIS 204

    • FOnline Meeting
    • Feb 8 - May 14, 2021
    • Thorne, R

  • Instruction Mode: Online

  • 21044PHYS 1204  DIS 205

    • WOnline Meeting
    • Feb 8 - May 14, 2021
    • Thorne, R

  • Instruction Mode: Online