FS/Ph 9: The Science of Music -- Fall 2020 -- the on-line edition


Course Description (Click it.)

6 units (2-0-4) P/F

Fall 2020
Instructor: David Politzer
office: 416 Downs
e-mail: politzer at theory.caltech
home phone: 795-9227

Classes meet Mondays and Fridays at 1:00pm, beginning on Friday, October 2 -- or some other time TBA.

Here is a description of books in the Caltech library that I and previous students found interesting and/or useful. Someday you might find something of interest there, too.

Here is a list and description of some sound analysis freeware compiled in less fraught times. There is actually a huge industry, and new products appear at an ever-accelerating rate. Spectroid (linked here) was my latest addition to the list, a free app that gives a nice real-time spectrum of the sound coming in to your device.

There are zillions of "educational" sound-related pages on the Web, with demos, simulations, explanations, and derivations. But the physics of acoustics and music is a rather more stable field than the engineering and technology. Many of the links I give explicitly are part of someone's much larger effort to present some science. So, if you use your browser to go back up their tree, you will likely come to a directory or a page with lots of related links.

Here are a few, in random order:

Visualizing molecule motion of sound in air -- a cartooney animation

whyyouhearwhatyouhear.com is a maintained and updated Web site that goes with the book of the same name (on our SF Library reserve shelf). It's got great demos, resource links, and explanations.

At the University of New South Wales (Australia), they have a serious physics of music program with lots of stuff on-line. (Here is another portal to their site.)

An energetic science teacher worked up a course and put it into book form: The Physics of Music and Musical Instruments. Very readable and accessible and at an elementary level and only about 100 pages total, it might serve as a good reference for things mentioned in class.

A group at the University of Colorado produces wonderful interactive physics simulations. This is the one on waves on a string.

Hyperphysics, produced at Georgia State University, has a "Sound and Hearing" section with useful materials.

I can't figure out who Paul Falstad is, but he puts great physics applets on-line.

These days, Wolfram Enterprises is the home of much more than Mathematica. Three demonstrations on demonstrations.wolfram.com recently caught my eye: locating the hammer on a piano wire; string vibrations; and vibrations of simple systems. These demos are best with a free downloadable player. (Also note that Caltech has a Mathematica site license -- as well as lots of other stuff you can get for free from IMSS.)