Good Vibrations: The Physics of Music

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Overview

Why does a harpsichord sound different from a piano? For that matter, why does middle C on a piano differ from middle C on a tuning fork, a trombone, or a flute? Good Vibrations explains in clear, friendly language the out-of-sight physics responsible not only for these differences but also for the whole range of noises we call music.

The physical properties and history of sound are fascinating to study. Barry Parker's tour of the physics of music details the science of how instruments, the acoustics of rooms, electronics, and humans create and alter the varied sounds we hear. Using physics as a base, Parker discusses the history of music, how sounds are made and perceived, and the various effects of acting on sounds. In the process, he demonstrates what acoustics can teach us about quantum theory and explains the relationship between harmonics and the theory of waves.

Peppered throughout with anecdotes and examples illustrating key concepts, this invitingly written book provides a firm grounding in the actual and theoretical physics of music.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Good Vibrations deals, in a nontechnical manner, with the very interesting subject of the physics of music.

Physics Today
Good Vibrations provides many interesting facts and connections between physics and music for the general reader.

— David Dolak

Sacramento Bee
It is seriously easy to understand... It is clear that Parker loves having been born into a world that includes music. Reading this book is like listening to a teacher who worships his subject matter.

— Joseph Arellano

Physics Today - David Dolak

Good Vibrations provides many interesting facts and connections between physics and music for the general reader.

Sacramento Bee - Joseph Arellano

It is seriously easy to understand... It is clear that Parker loves having been born into a world that includes music. Reading this book is like listening to a teacher who worships his subject matter.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801892646
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 11/17/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 515,745
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Parker is a professor emeritus of physics at Idaho State University and the author of The Isaac Newton School of Driving and Death Rays, Jet Packs, Stunts, and Supercars, both published by Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

I Sound and Sound Waves

1 Making Music: How Sound Is Made 13

2 The Sound of Music: Perception 28

3 Good Vibes: Waves in Motion 41

II The Building Blocks of Music

4 Making Music Beautiful: Complex Musical Tones 61

5 The Well-Tempered Scale 77

6 Down Melody Lane with Chords and Chord Sequences 93

7 "You've Gotta Have Rhythm": Rhythm and Types of Music 109

III Musical Instruments

8 Why a Piano Is Not a Harpsichord 131

9 The Stringed Instruments: Making Music with the Violin and the Guitar 146

10 The Brass Instruments: Trumpet and Trombone 165

11 The Woodwinds: Clarinet and Saxophone 179

12 The Most Versatile Instrument: The Singing Voice 189

IV New Technologies and Acoustics

13 Electronic Music 211

14 Making a MIDI Recording 227

15 The Acoustics of Concert Halls and Studios 244

Epilogue 259

Suggested Readings 267

Index 269

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2012

    Soundwave says

    Lazerbeak.

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    Posted November 1, 2011

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