Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Physics of Music

The connection between music and mathematics has been talked about before on these pages. I recently came across a good introduction to the relationship between music and physics. The Public Radio program Science Friday had a program in April that did a good job of explaining some of the physics involved in understanding sound and music. The page linked above has links to a complete audio recording of the program as well as some of the example audio clips and explanations presented in the program. One of the topics that is quite interesting and is explained well is the concept of fundamental tones and overtones, and how those work together to affect our perception of sound. Some auditory illusions are presented too, and these are not only fun to hear but help show how our brains shape the way we perceive sounds. I had not heard of auditory illusions before (we've all seen lots of optical illusions) but I guess it shouldn't be surprising that there are ways to alter sounds and fool the brain.

1 comment:

wunelle said...

I will have to listen to the link. This is, as you know, something about which I've been interested (if not very well informed) for quite some time. I know, for example, that the concept of harmony, and why it sounds good to us, is to do with the consonance of the harmonics between the notes in a chord; and I'm also aware that the business of tuning and temperaments (about which some long-winded post happened some months ago) relates to this alignment of overtones. But I'd love to hear more about it.

And I think even chords are a form of auditory illusion, since we cease to hear the individual parts and hear instead some new whole. Fun.