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 4: timelines, time graphs, and musical notation

Physics of Music 5: musical notes as periodic sounds

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 8: the rules of physics in deep space

Physics of Music 9: prediction example, speed vs velocity

Physics of Music 10: symmetries and conservation laws

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 13: example question 

Physics of Music 14: predicting positions and velocities review, computer simulations

Physics of Music 15: Newton's 3rd Law

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

extra: Ball in a viscous fluid simulation

Physics of Music 17: physics of oscillatons and Hooke's Law

Physics of Music 18: simple harmonic motion

Physics of Music 19: Amplitude and period of oscillations

Physics of Music 20: physical properties determining oscillation frequency

Physics of Music 21: amplitude and period review and sample question

Physics of Musics 22: energy in oscillators, resonance

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 24: snapshot and history graphs for waves

Physics of Music 25: sinusoidal travelling waves

Physics of Music 26: sound as a longitudinal wave (part 1)

Physics of Music 27: Pressure, and sound as a longitudinal wave (part 2)

Physics of Music 28: Snapshot and history graphs for sound waves

Physics of Music 29: Sound wave history graph examples: musical notes vs ordinary sounds

Physics of Music 30: Properties  of musical notes vs properties of sound wave history graphs

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)?

Physics of Music 32: the principle of superposition, decomposing notes into pure tones

Physics of Music 33: the spectrum of a musical sound, spectrum graphs

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 34: standing waves

Physics of Music 35: predicting oscillation frequencies of a stretched string

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 41: perception of frequencies

Physics of Music 42: perception of loudness

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

Physics of Music 46: the equal-tempered chromatic scale and other ways to divide the octave

Physics of Music 47: auditory illusions

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 49: How notes evolve with time

Physics of Music 50: Physics of bowing

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

Physics of Music 55: brass instruments

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 56: the human voice 1: vocal folds, singing registers

Physics of Music 57: the human voice 2: the vocal tract and formants

Physics of Music 58: Synthesizing a voice

Physics of Music 59: The effects of helium on a human voice

Physics of Music 60: Vibrato

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 61: speakers and microphones

Physics of Music 62: analog and digital recording

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?

 Physics of Music 64: What is light + basic electromagnetism

Physics of Music 65: Properties of Light

Physics of Music 66: Vision vs Hearing

Physics of Music 67: atoms, the musical instruments of light

Physics of Music 68: quantum mechanics, the music of the universe