PHYS 1320 / MPSY 5340 / PHYS 3320

Musical Acoustics

Fall 2008

Special dates:

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Professor George Baker

(Guest Lecturer for Phys 1320)

Perkins Chapel:
Organ Demonstration/Performance:
(Counts for 2 quizzes)

Link to special material from Professor Baker

Make-up assignment if you missed Organ Demonstration (Due Nov. 20)

Thursday, 20 November 2008
(class time: 2:00-3:20 pm)
Room 175 Crow (Georges Auditorium) of the Business School
Professor Scott Douglas

From Pythagoras to Walt Disney:

Tuesday, 2 December 2008: CANCELED
(in class: 2:00-3:20 pm)
Russ Berger

President, Berger Design Group:
Special lecture presentation

Canceled: Class will be held in usual classroom

Link to Grade sheets: Lecture and Lab

Rotating Lab Assignments for Students 2008

Link to the PreLab and Lab Assignments (in PDF format)

3320 Physics Homework Assignments

Prof. Tunks' presentation of the Ear in PowerPoint (1.3M) and PDF (1.2M)
Prof. Tunks' notes on scales and temperament (6 pages scanned: 9.4M PDF File)

Term sheets PDF or Word formats


Fredrick I. Olness (office 201 Fondren Science, phone 768-2500)

Thomas W. Tunks (office 209 Perkins Admin. Building, phone 768-3726)


George Baker Associate University Organist and Director of University Worship Music at Perkins Chapel


LECTURE: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:00 - 3:20, Fondren Science Rm. 123 old system (158 new)

LAB: Monday   (1-3pm), (3-5pm) or (5-7pm), Fondren Science Rm. 25 old system (60 new)

Labs begin Tuesday September 2, 2008

Go to Course Schedule:

Go to lab schedule

Go to lab description


Note: Beginning Fall 2008 we are switching to the Backus text:

John Backus (Author)

"The Acoustical Foundations of Music" Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2 edition (December 1977)


Selected books will be placed on reserve.

GRADES: Components are:

PHYS 1320

MPSY 5340

PHYS 3320

exams (50% each)

daily quizzes (20%)

Laboratory (30%)

exams (50% each)

daily quizzes (20%)

paper & presentation (20%)

Laboratory (10%)

exams (40% each)

daily quizzes (20%)

Homework (40%)

PAPER & PRESENTATION (MPSY 5340 Only): Each student will be responsible for writing a paper 10 to 15 pages in length. You may, if you choose, submit your project in the form of a web page(s). The topic should be either the acoustics (psychoacoustics) of your own instrument or another acoustics topic of your choice. Presentations of this type are usually enhanced by a demonstration.

COURSE CONTENT: We will cover both the acoustics (physical sound properties) and the psychoacoustics (psychological, perceptual properties) of music. Topics will include sound in general, sound of musical instruments (including voice), sound characteristics of rooms, electronic production (synthesis) and reproduction of sound.

DEMONSTRATIONS: Demonstrations will be done in class sessions throughout the semester. You are encouraged to make suggestions about interesting ways to demonstrate the phenomena we are studying. Each class discussion will FOLLOW the reading of appropriate material, meaning that you will be expected to have completed the reading PRIOR to the class session for which it is listed. The same for tape listening assignments.

ASSIGNMENTS: Various problem sheets will be distributed for you to complete. Your completion of the problems is optional, and will be for your own benefit. As such, the problem sheets will not be graded. Other assignments, such as completing lab tasks and doing outside investigations will be considered under "participation".



Java Standing Wave Applet courtesy of Robert Hart x

Fourier Synthesis Java Applet: or
the whole collection of java applets

Resonance of square plate A great illustration of resonances of a square plate, and also a Ripple Tank. (Shown to me by Spencer Mabrito)

Black Hole Strikes Deepest Musical Note Ever Heard Astronomers have detected the deepest note ever generated in the cosmos, a B-flat flying through space like a ripple on an invisible pond. No human will actually hear the note, because it is 57 octaves below the keys in the middle of a piano.

 other miscellaneous web sites

The winner of the "coolest video award" which was shown to me by Peter Havey.

1.3Mb MPEG Video

"Every so often, just the right combination of conditions and events occur to create an unbelievable event-in this case an F-18 passing through the sound barrier. Not only were the water vapor, density and temperature just right, but there just happened to be a camera in the vicinity to capture the moment. The F-18 is actually in transonic flight, with normal shock waves emanating from behind the canopy and across the wings and fuselage. The condition will last for only an instant, and once supersonic flow exists completely around the aircraft, sharp-angled sonic cones replace the normal shock waves. The odds of getting a shot like this are staggering."

Perkins Chapel:

Perkins Chapel (DMN Reviw of George Baker April 2001)
Perkins Chapel (Dallas Guide Live Reviw of George Baker September 2008)

CD's Recorded at Perkins Chapel:

 MARCEL DUPRE: Organ Works, Vol. 13
    * Performer(s): Dupre, Baker, Aeolian-Skinner, Schudi
    * Label: Naxos -  8.554542 
    * Audio CD (October 21, 2003)
    * ASIN: B0000BX5KC

Pierre PINCEMAILLE  - Improvisations
    Solstice Music:  SOCD203