MUSI 1900 Notes: Christine Blair
The absence of sound
o It is a relative concept and we rarely experience absolute science since
the basic functions of our body and daily life activities produce sound
Vibrations give rise to sound waves, which in turn affects the eardrums and
set into motion a multi- stage process of auditory perception.
The purposeful organization of the quality, pitch, duration, and intensity, of
o Can also be defined as organized sound that is meaningful to people at
a specific time and place. People of different cultural backgrounds can
define it differently. There is no specific universally assigned
definition to music.
Example: The Venda people in South African music are
believed to be founded not on melody, but on a rhythmical
stirring of the whole body, of which singing is but one
Katajjaq (Inuit Vocal Game)
Generally sung by two Inuit women who stand or sit face to face, sometimes
holding each others shoulders, competing for who can sing longer until
eventually one women runs out of breath and they both end up giggling.
o Amongst the Inuit this style of singing is considered a game and not
considered as being music, or hold much musical value.
The color of a sound, arising from acoustical properties of the harmonic
series. Also called timbre.
o Tone Color: Sometimes musicians use the expression tone color to
describe the distinctive sound of a particular voice or instrument.
Timbre: The distinctiveness of a particular voice or
instrument, arising from acoustical properties of the harmonic
series. Also called quality.
All of the above come from Sound Sources: The voices
and instruments that produce musical sound and whose
vibrations give rise to our perceptions of quality.
More on Sound Sources
Each sound source generates certain harmonies that render its sound
distinctive and enable the listener to distinguish between what is a piano and
guitar. o Details such as the construction of an instrument, including the
materials of which is was made of and subtle aspects of
craftsmanship, also play are a huge contributor to the quality of the
Aspects of Sound Production that Shape Quality are the
qualities of music that allow a certain sound or voice to begin,
sustain and then finally end.
Onset of a sound = attack (Wind Instruments have
strong attack, forceful blow of air)
Death of sound = decay (Piano has petals that help
quicken their decay)
Different than other instruments and special due to the fact they are hidden
in the human body.
There are also many different ways that the voice can produce a distinctive
o Khoomi Singers: Example of ‘My Beautiful Hanagi Land’ (Mongolian
Produced a range of vocal articulations that produce qualities
encountered in many Sound Scapes that are easily recognized.
There are some voice inflections that are unexpected and
random. Sound quite unnecessary and annoying.
o There is the evident use of Vibrato: A regular fluctuation of sound,
produced by varying the pitch of a sound. Example: The Western
violin can produce much vibrato.
o Straight Tone: A sound that lacks any vibrato. Example: The bow
accompanying the annoying singer in that stupid song.
o Raspy: (Terminology used to describe vocal quality which is usually
subjective) A singling voice that is rough or gruff sounding in quality.
Other describing words could be sweet, warm, cold.
Example 2: “Wreck of the Old 97” (Traditional American Folk Song) You can
hear many vocal qualities in his voice in this hick song that can be described
o Nasal: A buzzing vocal quality produced by using the sinuses and
mask of the face as sound resonators.
A singer is able to alter the quality of the tone or voice they produce by using
the following elements accordingly:
o Chest Voice: Sound resonated from within the chest, with a low,
powerful, throaty vocal quality.
o Head Voice: A light, bright, high tone resonated in the head.
o Falsetto: The process of singing by men in a high register above the
normal male singing range.
The lower line in music is referred to as a Drone. Organology
The study of musical instruments.
o Sachs- Hornbostel System: A classification of musical instruments,
named after the scholars who developed the system.
o Idiophones: Instruments that produce sound by being vibrated. One
of the 5 main classes of instruments in that system mentioned above.
Idiophones are classified by the way they are caused to vibrate:
soncussion, struck, stamped, shaken, plucked or rubbed.
Examples of Idiophones include: gongs, bells, and your two
hands and feet.
o Chordophones: Instruments with strings that can be plucked or
bowed; they are subdivided into zithers, lutes, lyres and harps.
Lute: Chordophones whose strings are stretched along a neck
and body, such as the ukulele, and guitar.
Bow: An implement resembling an archer’s bow used to sound
string instruments; in some places, the bow itself is plucked to
Harp: Chordophone whose strings run at an angle away from
the soundboard, subcategorized by shape, playing position and
Lyre: Chordophone whose strings are stretched over a
soundboard and attached to a crossbar that spans the top of a
Zither: A chordophone without a neck or yoke whose strings
are stretched parallel to the soundboard.
o Aerophones: Instruments that sound by means of vibrating air; one
of the five main classes of instruments in that system subdivided into
trumpets, pipes, and horns as well as free aerophones.
Free Reed: Aerophones that have enclosed reeds through