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DHC 161 Physics of Musical Instruments

Instructor: Dr. Andy Piacsek

Interactive Tools | Online Resources

Course Description

DHC 161 is a Douglas Honors College course that satisfies the General Education requirements for Physical and Biological Systems. The emphasis of this course is on the basic principles of sound and vibration with the goal of understanding how and why musical instruments produce their sounds. Topics include sound analysis techniques, standing waves and overtones, room acoustics, musical scales, and the perception of sound.


The following three texts are required:

Cover of textbookOn the Sensations of Tone
Hermann Helmholtz
Dover Press (reprint of 1885 English edition)
ISBN: 0-486-60753-4
Cover of textbookThe Amadeus Book of the Violin
Walter Kolneder
Amadeus Press (translation of 1993 edition)
ISBN: 978-1-57467-038-7
Cover of textbookSound Synthesis and Sampling, Third Edition (with CD).
Martin Russ
Focal Press (Elsevier), 2009
ISBN: 978-0-240-52105-3


Students are expected to make use of extensive resources available online (see links at left). Some other texts, available at the CWU library, that may be helpful:

Cover of textbookMusical Acoustics, Third Edition.
Donald Hall
Brooks/Cole, 2002
ISBN: 0-534-37728-9
Cover of textbookThe Physics of Sound, Third Edition.
Richard Berg and David Stork
Pearson/Addison-Wesley, 2005
ISBN: 0131457896
Cover of textbookThe Physics of Musical Instruments, Second Edition.
Neville Fletcher and Thomas Rossing
Springer, 1998
ISBN: 978-0-387-98374-5


Interactive Tools

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Online Resources

Music Theory

Physics of  Waves

Musical Instruments

Sound Synthesis

Perception of Sound

General Acoustics

Useful Videos (LInks to class project videos will be here)

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