author: Mark Van Raamsdonk (professor of physics at the University of British Columbia)

This page has links to a series of videos on the physics of music. The videos assume no physics or mathematics background beyond basic everyday mathematical concepts.They are based on a UBC course for non-science students.

The videos build on each other to some extent, but it probably won't hurt to jump to something that sounds interesting and then go back to fill in the details.

For a basic introduction to this series, see here:

Physics of Music 1: Who are you, what are these videos, and who are they for?

Physics of Music 2: What is music (physically), what is physics, and how are they related

 PART 1: Time and periodic phenomena   What distinguishes music from other types of sounds? Physics of Music 3: time and periodic events in physics and music Physics of Music 6: periodic elements in Ode to Joy extra: The World's Ugliest Music PART 2: Basic physics What is physics? What are energy and momentum and why are they conserved? What are Newton's Laws and how can we use them to predict the future? Physics of Music 7: predicting the future with physics Physics of Music 11: Forces and Newton's Second Law Physics of Music 12: types of forces and predicting positions and velocities Physics of Music 14: predicting positions and velocities review, computer simulations PART 3: Physics of oscillations Why do things oscillate? What affects the rate at which they oscillate? What is resonance? Physics of Music 16: intro to oscillations Physics of Music 17: physics of oscillatons and Hooke's Law Physics of Music 19: Amplitude and period of oscillations Physics of Music 21: amplitude and period review and sample question bonus : derivation of the expression for energy and the relation between simple harmonic and circular motion (for the mathematically inclined) PART 4: Physics of waves What is a wave and what causes it? What is sound? What is waving in a sound wave? What is special about the sound waves for musical notes? How do speakers and microphones work (basic)? What properties of sound waves determine the loudness, pitch, and sound quality of a musical tone? How do the sound waves differ for two different instruments playing the same note (part 1)? Physics of Music 23: intro to waves Physics of Music 26: sound as a longitudinal wave (part 1) Physics of Music 31: speakers/headphones; more on musical note properties vs sound wave properties PART 5: Building sounds from pure tones (Important!!) What determines the sound quality of a musical tone? What are the basic building blocks of sound? What distinguishes the sound of one instrument from the sound of another instrument (part 2)? extra: the telharmonium (first example of a synthesizer) PART 6: Basics of musical instruments? Why do musical instruments produce musical tones? How does a stringed sintrument work (basic)? How does a wind instrument work (basic)? How can we predict the frequencies/pitches that an instrument will produce? Physics of Music 36: sounds of the harmonic series, predicting frequencies in a tube of air Physics of Music 37: note frequencies in wind instruments Physics of Music 38: wave speed and frequencies on stretched strings Physics of Music 39: Changing frequencies by changing wave speed PART 7: The ear and hearing How do our ears work? What information about a sound wave is sent to our brain? Why do we perceive some notes as sounding dissonance together? Physics of Music 40: the ear as a spectrum analyzer Physics of Music 43: perception of two pure tones with different frequencies PART 8: Musical intervals, scales, and chords Why do certain notes sound good together? Why do we use certain specific frequencies to build musical intervals, chords, and scales? Why are there 12 notes in an octave? When do we hear things that aren't there? Is it Laurel or Yanny? Physics of Music 44: musical intervals Physics of Music 45: scales and chords PART 9: Details of musical instruments What is the role of the body of a guitar or violin? Why does a Stradavarius sound better than a cheap violin? How does a bow work? How do reeds work? How do you produce an oscillating sound wave by blowing continuously on a flute? Why are brass instruments shaped like they are?  Physics of Music 48: importance of body and cavity vibrations for strings Physics of Music 51: woodwind instruments, pressure variations and register holes Physics of Music 52: driving oscillations with reeds Physics of Music 53: loud vs soft playing extra: the saxotube Physics of Music 54: Flutes: driving oscillations with an air jet PART 10: The human voice How does the human voice work? What is the difference between different singing registers (e.g. modal or falsetto)? What is the physical difference between different vowel sounds? How does helium affect your voice? What is vibrato? Physics of Music 59: The effects of helium on a human voice PART 11: Musical electronics How do speakers and microphones work (more detailes)? What does an amplifier do? How does recording work? What is the difference between an analog and a digital recording? How does a synthesizer work? Physics of Music 63: synthesizers PART 12: Light, Vision, and quantum mechanics What is light? What is waving in a light wave? How does vision compare to hearing? Why are there so many more sounds than colours? Is there something like a musical tone for light? Is there a deep conection between music and the workings of the universe?