Interesting Links and Material to Help You Out

Physics of Music/Sound -- Reference Web Sites

This webpage (credit for which goes almost entirely to Dr. Richard Berg) contains links to web sites with reference material related to PHYS102: PHYSICS OF MUSIC, an introductory course for non-science students offerecd at the University of Maryland. No attempt has been made to evaluate these sites or to rate their complexity, so the material therein may not be entirely suitable for this class level. However, inclusion here does imply that the material is correct and useful for those seeking information at the level provided.

Check for other links in Comments after Lectures which is a separate webpage for most of my "extra" notes.

  • physics of musical instruments: a brief history, by Dr. Brian Blood, sponsored by the Dolmetsch company (makers of recorders). Nice survey of the great scientists who contributed to the development of musical instruments over the past 2500 years or so.

  • Acoustics and Vibration Animations, Dan Russell, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Applied Physics at Kettering University in Flint, MI (

  • Great Physics Applets by Paul Falstad, including several on mechanical vibrations, interference, and Fourier synthesis.

  • The Soundry: Harmonics Appliet Simple applet that allows you to vary the harmonics and listen to the resulting complex sound waves. Click here for the main indsx to The Soundry and othaer interesting materials.

  • Applets by B. Surendranath Reddy, very nice simulations with easy-to-operate controls.

  • Animations for Acoustics Education, by Victor Sparrow of the Pennsylvania State University Graduate Program in Acoustics. Very nice set of animations done in Mathematica.

  • Applet: Mass on Spring, presented by MichiganState University. Nice motion and plotting graphics.

  • Nice lattice of masses connected by springs that can be excited by moving oneof the masses to show vibrations in the lattice.

  • Virtual Laboratory: The Pendulum, by Franz-Josef Elmer, University of Basel, Switzerland. Includes a lecture component to explain the theory.

  • National Taiwan Normal University Virtual Physics Laboratory; select "Waves." Contains a nice Fourier synthesis applet and many more.

  • Acoustical illusions - Endlessly rising melodies: The Shepard effect, University of Bonn, Germany (

  • HyperPhysics, C. R. Nave, Georgia State University (

  • Music Acoustics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (

  • Physics in Speech, by Joe Wolfe, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: Examples of helium voice with good explanation.

  • Article: Acoustics Experiment Shows Why It's So Hard to Make Out the Heroine's Words at the Opera, by Bertram Schwarzschild (Physics Today, March 2004). Word or PDF format.

  • The following are links to two Physics and Music lectures presented by Prof. Abraham Katzir of Tel Aviv University. The lectures include lots of nice demonstrations. Unfortunately for many of us, they are in Hebrew.

  • MyPhysicsLab - Physics Simulations in Java (

  • Acoustics/Physics of Sound Booklist (Basic Level), lists a large number of basic level text and reference books. Most can be purchased from this web site.

  • Acoustics & Vibrations Booklist (Advanced), from the World-Wide Web Virtual Library, including lists of University and other acoustics research labs with their areas of research interest.

  • Promenade 'round the Cochlea, an informative commercial web site discussing sound and the ear; contains a nice reference list.

  • Standard Pitch Or Concert Pitch For Pianos, a brief history of tuning, list of historical pitch levels, and list of the frequencies of all keys of the piano, presented by the U. K. Piano Page.

  • Notes on Microtonality, a long list of links to web sites discussing a great variety of tuning issues, including history, Western and non-Western instruments, and Baroque temperaments.

  • THE ACOUSTICS OF THE PIANO, a five lecture series by experts in the field describing the important features of piano acoustics. This is an excellent set of lectures, and includes a set of audio examples comparing the sounds of a variety of historical instruments. EXCELLENT!

  • 120 Years of Electronic Music discusses the development of electrical and electronic musical instruments, from the 1870s to the 1990s. Many illustrations.

    On-line list of acoustics web sites:

    Websites for Teaching Acoustics, compiled by Tom Rossing, January 2001 (

    Back to main class description webpage

    Go to Alan Peel's Home Page (which will probably not be a directly useful resource for Physics 102!)

    Last Modified: 17 Nov 2008 subject to change