Acoustics is the science of sound. More specifically, it’s the branch of physics that deals with sound waves and their properties—how sound waves are generated, how they behave in various circumstances, how they interact.
Applied to music, acoustics is the basis for understanding all sorts of things: the functioning of all musical instruments and of the voice; the nature of notes, or pitches—their relationships, and why they sound the way they do in different combinations; the differences in quality of musical sounds, from differences in volume to differences in timbre, or “tone color.” Now when I say “understanding,” I mean understanding from the scientific perspective…which is very different from “appreciating,” or “perceiving.” Luckily, none of us has to be an acoustical physicist in order to appreciate the sound—and the sounds—of music, and to be sensitive to the infinite range of meaning in music. But more on acoustics tomorrow.
I’m Miles Hoffman, and this has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.