Physics of Music

How I found myself through music | Anika Paulson

Where Physics and Guitars Collide: Dr. Mark Lewney

Physics of Musical Instruments – Part 1

Real Instruments And The Sound We Hear – Part 2

Physics of Musical Instruments Video Lecture from Professor Sarah Bolton at Williams College

Other Resources

Take Notes on These Terms

Sound Wave

A vibrational disturbance that involves mechanical motion of molecules transmitting energy from one place to another.


Reducing a signal’s output level in relation to its input level to reduce dynamic range.


The # of times per second that a sound source vibrates, expressed in hertz (Hz).


Unit of measurement of frequency; numerically equal to cycles per second (cps).


The range below the frequencies audible to human hearing.


The range above the frequencies of human hearing.


The subjective perception of frequency – the highness or lowness of a sound.


The lowest frequency a sound source can produce. In other words, it is also called the first harmonic or primary frequency which is the lowest, or basic, pitch of a musical instrument.

Sound Frequency Spectrum

The range of frequencies audible to human hearing: about 20 to 20,000 Hz.


The interval between two frequencies that have a tonal ratio of 2:1.


The low range of the audible frequency spectrum; usually from 20 to 320 Hz.


The part of the frequency spectrum to which humans are most sensitive; the frequencies between roughly 320 Hz and 2,560 Hz.


Frequency range between roughly 5,120 Hz and 20,000 Hz, the highest two octaves audible to human hearing in the sound frequency spectrum.


A signal-processing device that can boost, attenuate, or shelve frequencies in a sound source or sound system.


The magnitude of a sound wave or an electric signal, measured in decibel’s.

Decibel (dB)

A relative and dimensionless unit to measure the ratio of two quantities.


Distance between two peaks of a wave


Speed in a given direction


Is a multiple of the fundamental frequency


Factor in the interaction of one wave with another, either acoustically or electronically