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PHYS 103 Physics of Musical Sound

Instructor: Dr. Andy Piacsek

PHYS103 will be offered as DHC161 in Winter 2011 and 2012.

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Course Information

PHYS 103 covers 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. This course satisfies the breadth requirement of the General Education program (Applications of Natural Science), as well as being a writing-intensive "W" course.


There is no required text to purchase for this course. Instead, students will make use of extensive resources available online, in addition to handouts, worksheets, and copies of lectures that I provide.

The following textbooks are on reserve at the library for this course. Some reading assignments will be taken from these texts.


Cover of textbook

Physics and the Sound of Music, Second Edition.
John Rigden
Wiley, 1985
ISBN: 0-471-87412-4

Cover of textbook

The Science of Sound, Third Edition.
Rossing, Moore, and Wheeler
Addison Wesley, 2002
ISBN: 0-8053-8565-7

Cover of textbook


Musical Acoustics, Third Edition.
Donald Hall
Brooks/Cole, 2002
ISBN: 0-534-37728-9

Cover of textbook


The Physics of Sound, Third Edition.
Richard Berg and David Stork
Pearson/Addison-Wesley, 2005
ISBN: 0131457896

Cover of textbook

The Physics of Musical Instruments, Second Edition.
Neville Fletcher and Thomas Rossing
Springer, 1998
ISBN: 978-0-387-98374-

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Online Resources

Music Theory

Physics of Waves

Musical Instruments

Sound Synthesis

General Acoustics

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