Questions tagged [acoustics]

The physical science of sound production, behavior, and mechanics.

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38
votes
2answers
13k views

Why are violin bows longer than viola bows, than cello bows, than double-bass bows ?

What is the logic behind this ? As the larger instruments have larger gaps between the strings, I would have expected a larger bow to accomodate more easily continuous bowing while changing strings.
29
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4answers
10k views

Physics behind why a bugle can play several notes, while a whistle only plays one note

A bugle and a whistle are essentially both tubes open at both ends. A bugle has no keys, yet you can play several notes on it. A whistle also has no keys, but it only plays a single note. Why is this? ...
24
votes
6answers
4k views

Should low frequency players anticipate in orchestra?

"The bigger the instrument, the heavier the strings, the bigger the bow, the bigger the mouthpiece, the more you should anticipate." This concept is expressed occasionally by double bass players, ...
22
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7answers
85k views

How can I reduce the echo/reverb in a large room if I can't add physical damping?

I was at an event this evening in a restored ballroom - absolutely beautiful, but parquet flooring, high ceilings, solid walls etc all made for terrible acoustics, and in fact I could hardly make out ...
22
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9answers
4k views

Why do listeners hear the lowest note of a chord most distinctly?

Source: Prof. Bruce Taggart (PhD in Music Theory, U. of Pennsylvania), 58 s of his Coursera video. The lowest note of a chord is the most important one. It's the one that the listener hears most ...
21
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6answers
8k views

Does piano soundproofing require floating walls? Getting conflicting answers from professionals

I have just placed a new hybrid piano in a small 9x13 room in my apartment. I want to use the room for playing and for singing. Costly steps have already been taken, and, much to our dismay, we ...
20
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4answers
5k views

Will a marching band on the go sound out of tune to an observer due to the Doppler Effect?

Upon reading Simon Singh's Big Bang, I came upon an explanation of the Doppler Effect (besides the known Formula 1 and ambulance sirens examples): Trumpeters were split into two groups and asked to ...
20
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4answers
5k views

Why do certain rooms/vessels respond to specific frequencies?

Since I was a kid I was always wondering why is it that when I sing in a small room (i.e. bathroom!), whenever I touch a certain frequency, the whole room vibrates sympathetically. What are the ...
19
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5answers
7k views

Can eggboxes really be used to treat a room? If so, how?

I'm thinking about acoustically treating my room so I can listen to my mixes in higher clarity. I'm trying to think of how I can do it cheaply (even though you get what you pay for, I suppose), and my ...
19
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1answer
3k views

How does a pipe organist deal with latency or delay?

I've seen church setups (choir loft in back) where the organ console is 30 Meters or more away from the pipes. That implies that there would be a minimum of 100 milliseconds from pipe sounds back to ...
15
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3answers
2k views

What is brightness?

I hear the term get thrown around a lot, and it seems pretty nebulous. Usually, it's invoked under the heading of tone, but I've heard it linked to intonation and a handful of other categories. At the ...
15
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1answer
1k views

At what point in history did the relationship between pitch and frequency become well-known among musicians?

I think I've read that even very ancient cultures were able to discern that an octave difference corresponded to a pipe of twice the length, and so on. But at what point were musicians and composers ...
14
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5answers
11k views

Music Theory: Frequencies related to playing a note on guitar

I am studying the physics related to playing guitar. I need to understand the relationship between the fundamental frequency of a guitar string and its harmonics. For e.g., the top string has the ...
13
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4answers
3k views

Why does a clarinet behaves like a closed pipe?

Saxophones, oboes and generally generally most woodwind instruments I can think of behave like open pipes. That seems logical; when every key is closed, they actually are open pipes and, if I remember ...
13
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4answers
178 views

What kind of ear protection offers the best compromise between protection and sound fidelity?

Useful when your drummer is loud. (that china still banging in your head after a session)
12
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10answers
5k views

Can music time signatures really be irrational?

In this video around the 5 minute mark, the presenter mentions that "irrational units of time cannot exist because of Planck's constant", and therefore music time signatures like 2:√2 cannot be ...
12
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3answers
3k views

How did baroque music sound at the time?

Historical context Let's for example consider Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 (click here to enjoy). It was composed at the very beginning of the 18th century in Germany. At that time: ...
12
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1answer
3k views

Flat-wound vs round-wound strings

What difference can you expect when playing with flat-wound vs round-wound strings on an electric bass/guitar? I know that they feel different - I am asking explicitly in terms of sound.
11
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2answers
2k views

Trumpet Peculiar Frequency spectrum

So I made this frequency spectrum analyzer and tested various instruments playing a certain note. There doesn't seem to be any problem with the 'equalizer'. However, I found the spectrum for trumpet ...
11
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4answers
2k views

Is 440hz always perceived as the same note no matter the vibrating medium, athmosphere and environment?

When I produce a 440hz signal is it in all conditions (air-pressure, medium or compositon of the athmosphere, on a mountain, on alien planets etc.) perceived as the same note? Assuming a human can ...
11
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5answers
995 views

Scaling an object to change its key

I used a 3D Printer to make a kid's Recorder for my son. It plays surprisingly well. However, it's not tuned to match the common recorder used in schools. Using a phone-app tuner, the base mouth-piece ...
11
votes
2answers
711 views

How do I know where to place holes on an instrument?

I've been trying to build a double reeded instrument out of plastic straws. I've run into a problem though, when I place fingering holes, the instrument doesn't seem to follow the $$f=/frac{nv}{4L}$$ ...
11
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2answers
1k views

brass: bending notes upwards

It is fairly easy - although it requires a bit of strength - to bend notes downwards on a trumpet. For example playing a F#, a F, or even lower notes with all valves open. It does not sound nice, but ...
11
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4answers
3k views

Do cold/hot drinks have any effect on woodwinds and brass performers?

Hey, I saw this question and I immediately remembered one or two teachers that kept saying that drinking cold/hot drinks before and/or during playing any woodwind or brass instrument was a bad thing, ...
10
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4answers
4k views

If I change the pitch of a C major scale can I get to any major key?

Say I recorded an audio of C major: do re mi fa so la si do. Now imagine I used some software to change the pitch higher (I think Audacity has a feature like this). I was wondering: if I change the ...
10
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3answers
10k views

Why do people place speaker cabinets or combo amps on top of things?

In a lot of gigs I've played, I have noticed that they have placed the amplifier speaker cab (usually just the bass amp) on top of a chair or a stool or something, so as not to be on the ground. What ...
10
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2answers
1k views

Why does palm muting give a higher output than a normally played power chord?

Assuming you have the same amount of (high) gain, and the same amount of distortion, a palm muted strum gives a higher output than when you hit the same chord with the same amount of energy, non muted....
10
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2answers
4k views

What factors affect the loudness of a drum?

Is it the size of the drum? The width? The length? Particular body materials? Particular head materials? Given that there are a hundred different kinds of drums in the world with very different ...
9
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6answers
1k views

Do interval ratios take overtones into account or solely the fundamental frequency?

An interval holds two pitches (C an G). Those two pitches have a fundamental frequency which represents their pitch names, along with their harmonic series/overtones. When we turn that interval into ...
9
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4answers
1k views

How can I get a less directional sound from a loudspeaker?

Normally I play on stage with my pedalboard DI'ed straight in to the desk and use a stagefront wedge monitor for all my sound but some venues don't work like this. In these cases I use the standard ...
9
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3answers
13k views

What is meant by “Top-End” and “Bottom-End”?

When guitarists describe the sound of their guitars, a lot of terms are used. What does a guitarist mean when they talk about top and bottom end?
9
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3answers
1k views

Physical volume of instruments

I am aware that this might be a slightly unusual question, but just today I was wondering about the physical volume (meaning the capacity, NOT the loudness) of some musical instruments. In particular,...
8
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4answers
1k views

How are chord ratios developed exactly?

Major Chord 4:5:6 Minor Chord 10:12:15 Diminished Chord 20:24:29 Are 3 examples of triad chord ratios. My question is how are these ratios developed? If we look at a Major chord in the key of C, it ...
8
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2answers
1k views

Bass guitar: Fret distance formula

I just set off a new trip to the wonderful world of fretted instruments. I bought myself an electric bass guitar (cort c4h). My question to you is what is the formula of the fret distances along the ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

What causes overtones at harmonic frequencies in an instrument? [duplicate]

I know when a string is plucked on a violin you can hear many overtones at harmonic frequencies, but where do these overtones come from? Does an ideal string vibrating in a vacuum vibrate at the ...
8
votes
2answers
5k views

What's the purpose of a sound post?

Almost all bowed string instruments have a sound post. It is said that this adds stability to the instrument and also "transmits vibrations to the bottom". Interestingly though, guitars do not have ...
8
votes
1answer
237 views

Why can a vuvuzela only play one pitch, while a non-valved bugle can play many?

According to our collective nightmares from the 2010 World Cup Wikipedia, the vuvuzela is a monotone instrument; it famously plays (roughly) the B♭ below middle C. Why is the vuvuzela restricted to ...
8
votes
1answer
500 views

Why is (stiffness/speed of sound-travel of the wood) important for a bow?

High-end violin bows have been made for centuries out of permanbouc (a now rare and endangered brasilian wood) or equivalent woods and now synthetic material. Permambouc wood is praised for is ...
7
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5answers
2k views

How do multiple sound waves interact physically to create music?

What happens on a physical level when many notes/sound waves interact with each other at the same time? (For example, a big chord on the piano with all of its harmonics/overtones clashing together.) ...
7
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2answers
3k views

How do uncovered tone holes in middle of a flute work?

As a (mediocre) guitarist just starting to dabble with other instruments, the first several fingering diagrams for flutes, saxophones, etc make good intuitive sense to me because you're effectively ...
7
votes
2answers
762 views

What makes some instruments louder than others?

Main question: are longer pianos actually louder? Context: When a musician plays on an acoustic instrument, I expect that the loudness produced corresponds to raw energy (as measured in Joules or ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

Studio monitors: Should we break them in and why?

Having just acquired a spankin' new pair of monitors for my home studio, I'm currently in the process of "breaking them in". Being an inquisitive mind, I started wondering: what is the purpose of ...
7
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4answers
7k views

Acoustic considerations for positioning an upright piano against the wall?

I know that upright pianos are usually positioned against the wall for aesthetic reasons, but I was wondering whether there are any sound quality considerations. Searching the web it seemed like some ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Does environmental (or food/drink) temperature have an effect on the voice?

Does ambient temperature (i.e. winter vs summer) or food/drink temperature (i.e. cold vs hot) have an effect on voice: Texture Pitch/range Strength
6
votes
3answers
126 views

Music Physics Question - Automatic Trumpet Embouchure Mouthpiece

So this might be a bit of a newbie question. I'm a working musician who mainly plays guitar and piano, and uses a lot of sampled instruments and synths as well. I don't mean this to be offensive to ...
6
votes
1answer
130 views

What are the effects of the shape of a bend in a brass instrument slide?

Some brass instrument manufacturers make a feature of the shape of the various slides - some have a semi-circular wrap, other more semi-elliptical. Some have a tight wrap (the two legs of the slide ...
6
votes
1answer
175 views

What properties of a material make it ideal for acoustic foam or paneling?

I want to make some acoustic foam/paneling substitute but I'm wondering makes foam paneling "good" or not? I know that if it's too dense or stiff then the sound won't "trap" and will just bounce right ...
6
votes
1answer
103 views

Acoustics of woodwinds with centered mouthpieces/openings

Common woodwind instruments, as you know, are blown into from one of the two ends; the acoustic studies for air columns mainly center around these. But I am attempting to understand the acoustics of a ...
6
votes
1answer
84 views

Is there some means of expanding the range of a capped reed instrument?

Given the pitch limits of capped reed instruments, I wondered whether some means of expanding the range of such existed. Perhaps with some sort of embouchure mimicking device surrounding the reed, but ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

In Pythagorean tuning, what's the frequency of the tonic of each key?

When playing a fretless instrument (like violin), what frequency should be used to tune beginning of each key? I believe that for A major and A minor, 440Hz is the tonic. What will be the frequency ...