In this first-year seminar course, we learn about how sound is produced by musical instruments, and how those sounds have been used in music-making from the twelfth century to the present day. Like its subject, the course is a mixture of the objective/technical and the subjective/aesthetic, and the class provides a model of how the two types of analysis can fruitfully be brought to bear on a single topic.
The students make use of their understanding of the acoustics of conventional
instruments to design and build unique instruments of their own.
The "Grand Finale" of the class is a concert played upon those instruments,
which is open to the public. Some pictures and video clips
from the 1999 performances can be found here,
and pictures from the 2000 performance are here.
Wind instruments made by this year's class are pictured here. The stringed instruments made by the 2000 class are here,
and the wind instruments they made are here.
(If you would like to see the stringed instruments the students made by the students in the 1999 class, click here. Their wind instruments are shown here.) Other pictures from the Fall 2000 class are found here.
No, these students do not have turnips in their ears. They are using Helmholtz resonators to help them hear the higher partials of a compound tone.
|Prof. Laurie McNeil
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
Phillips Hall 166
|photos courtesy of Dan Sears, UNC News Bureau|
|Prof. Brent Wissick
Dept. of Music
Hill Hall 102
|Class meetings:||Tuesdays 2:00 - 2:50 p.m.|
|Thursdays 2:00 - 3:40 p.m.|
|Phillips Hall 275 or Hill Hall 202 (as announced)|
|Final exam:||Tuesday, May 6 at 2:00 p.m. in Phillips Hall 275|
|Textbooks:||Measured Tones by Ian Johnston|
|On the Sensations of Tone by Hermann Helmholtz|
|The Six Brandenburg Concertos by J.S. Bach|
|Additional articles posted on class website|
Each student is expected to do the assigned reading before coming to
the class for which it is designated, and to participate in class discussions
and other activities.
|Grading:||5%||Shorter assignments (2)|
|20%||Etude reports (4)|
|15%||Oral presentations (3, including Grand Finale)|
|20%||Longer assignments (3)|
Enrolled students can find more detailed information about the assignments (and much else) here.
CLASS TOPICS, LOCATIONS, AND ASSIGNMENTS
|January 7 Hill 202
Introduction to course; objective and subjective analyses
|January 9 Phillips
Simple harmonic motion, waves, superposition
MT 1-4, 28-36, 56-67, App. 2; H 25-36
|January 14 Hill 202
Music theory, ancient Greek theory
MT 4-16; H 15-17, 257-261
Physics concept exercise due
|January 17 Hill 202
Triads and scales, Greek modes, overtones
MT 17-27; H 50-51, 262-263
"Who I am" statements must be posted by Jan. 15
|January 21 Phillips
Violin and guitar families; Standing waves on a string
MT 44-47, 131-111; H 36-49
Music exercise due
|January 23 Phillips
Etude #1: plucked and hammered strings
MT 88-119; Etude instructions from Website
|January 28 Hill 202
Visit from John Pringle, luthier
A Night at the Opera II: Arias, Duos and Variations by Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and Beethoven. Faculty recital by Prof. Wissick, with faculty, students and guest artists. 8:00 p.m. in Hill Hall, free admission.
Report on Etude #1 due
|January 30 Hill 202
Differences within the string family; cavity modes; physics of the bowed string
MT 119-130; "Physics of Violins", "Concerto for Pencilina and Sewer Flute," "Physics of the Bowed String"
|February 4 Hill 202
Brandenburg #3 and #6; strings played together
|February 6 Phillips
Etude #2: real stringed instruments
H 80-86; Etude instructions from Website
|February 11 Hill 202
Brandenburg #5; Keyboard family; sound boards
MT 74-85; H 74-80;"Acoustics of the Harpsichord," "Physics of the Piano"
Rewrite of Etude #1 report due
|February 13 Phillips
Oral presentations on home-made stringed instruments
|February 18 Phillips
Temperaments; original vs. modern instruments
MT 67-73, App. 3; H 310-330
|February 20 Hill 202
Percussion: membranes and bars
MT 247-264; H 40-41
|February 25 Person
Keyboards and temperaments continued: visit from Elaine Funaro
"How my instrument works" paper due
|February 27 Hill 202
Percussion continued: real instruments
"Physics of Kettledrums"
|March 4 Hill 202
|March 6 Hill 202
|March 18 Phillips 275
Wind instruments; organ pipes;
Visit to the University Methodist Church pipe organ at 3:00 p.m.
MT 41-43, 178-191; H 88-102
|March 20 Hill 202
Orchestration, registers; Brandenburg #2
Adler 266-282, 284-302
"Argument" paper due
|March 25 Phillips 275
Reeds: valves and columns; Flutes and turbulence
MT 210-220;"Physics of Wood Winds"
|March 27 Phillips 275
Etude #3: pipe length and finger holes
MT 191-210, App. 5; "Physics of Organ Pipes"; Etude instructions from Website
|April 1 Phillips 275
Brass: a flare for sound
MT 37-40, review App. 5
Report on Etude #3 due
|April 3 Phillips 275
Etude #4: end bells
MT 48-55; Etude instructions from Website
Free topic choice due
|April 8 Hill
Brass continued: orchestration
Report on Etude #4 due
|April 10 Hill
Oral presentations on home-made wind instruments
Psychoacoustics: tonotopic organization
|April 15 Hill
201 (piano lab)
Psychoacoustics continued: auditory illusions
CP "Pitch, periodicity, and auditory organization"
Free topic bibliography due
|April 17 Phillips 275
Concert hall acoustics: Hark the sound of Tar Heel spaces
MT 152-170, 237-239, App. 4
|April 22 Phillips 275
Concert hall acoustics continued: Sabine and beyond
"Science and Art Converge in Concert Hall Acoustics"
Free topic paper due
|April 22 Person Recital Hall
The Grand Finale: original compositions on original instruments
Reading assignments: MT is Measured Tones, H is
the Sensations of Tone, Adler is The Study
of Orchestration, which is on reserve in the Music Library, all other titles refer to articles posted on the website.