MUS 210 Chapter 1: MUSIC TECH: Chapter 1

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7 Feb 2017
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Chapter 1: What is Sound
Sound waves are generated when air molecules are pushed together, allowed to spring
apart, and then pushed together again in a repeating pattern
“Push together, spring apart”
Crowded party: you push someone, they push the person next to them, etc…
You stay put, but the “bump” moves across the room
To generate sound, you need a device that causes molecules to push together and
spring apart (instruments)
Compression- the region of air where the molecules have been pushed together
The compressed air molecules then spring apart, cause a compression further on
The energy imparted to the molecules by the string Propagates- moves through the air
String moving forward causes compression, string moving backward causes
rarefaction
Rarefaction- the forward motion of the string has cleared out the molecules in front of
the string, leaving an area with fewer molecules than before, the opposite of
compression
Compression Wave- the type of wave in which the disturbance of the medium is in the
same direction as the wave propagates (aka Longitudinal Wave)
Transverse Waves- the disturbance of the medium is up and down while the wave
propagates horizontally (ocean wave)
The air that goes into the instrument creates a compression
This pressure build-up causes the air to be redirected out of the vent thereby creating a
refraction
Resonance- Once an initial vibration is started, the sound wave passes into the body of
the instrument, which can determine pitch and overall timbre
The pitch of stringed instruments, percussive instruments, and voices is
determined by the vibrating elements of strings, membranes or bars, and vocal
cords
The resonators (body of a violin, shell of a drum, throat mouth and nasal cavities)
are responsible for shaping the timbre of the sound
The pitch of brass and woodwind instruments is determined by a combination of
the mouthpiece and the resonator
Key or valve systems activated by sound waves generated by the
mouthpiece
Most resonators have a fixed shape and fixed materials
The shape and materials have a strong influence on the timbre that
results
Formants- the resonances created by our vocal resonators
Changing our resonators is what enables us to utter different vowel sounds,
variety of inflections
“Plunger” mutes on brass instruments give it a vocal-like sound
Filters- software plug-ins that shape the timbre of the sound
Can simulate resonance in electronic instruments
Equalizers- Plug-ins with filters that can simulate fixed resonances
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