Music 401C Spring 2022

Acoustics of Music

UVic is temporarily shifting to online learning Jan. 10-24. Campus services will be open:

Dr. Andrew Schloss
Office: MacLaurin A177 Local: 7931
Office hours: Tuesday 4:30-5:30 pm or by appointment (email to confirm time/mode)

email: aschloss at uvic dot ca

NOTE: All emails pertaining to this class must have "MUS 401C" in the title.

TA: Ila Zbarsky
Office: TBA
Office hours: TBA
email: TBA

Classes: MacLaurin A168: Tues, Weds, Fri 11:30 am

Student Wellness resources - List of community, local and private resources, relating to mental health and wellness.

Counselling Services - Counselling Services can help you make the most of your university experience.They offer free professional, confidential, inclusive support to currently registered UVic students. A note to remind you to take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress. All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone.

Health Services - University Health Services (UHS) provides a full service primary health clinic for students, and coordinates healthy student and campus initiatives. We encourage students to use UHS as their primary point of health care while at UVic. We are located at the Petersen Health Centre.

Centre for Accessible Learning - The CAL staff are available by appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations . The sooner you let us know your needs the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course. 

Elders' Voices - The Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement (IACE) has the privilege of assembling a group of Elders from local communities to guide students, staff, faculty and administration in Indigenous ways of knowing and being.

Text: The Science of Sound, third edition by Thomas Rossing. Addison-Wesley 2002 (on reserve in the UVic Library)

also on reserve: The Acoustical Foundations of Music by John Backus

The Physics and Mathematics of Waves by Mike Divell. An optional primer on the physics of sound. Assumes knowledge of calculus and some differential equations. Not required for this course, read only if you are interested!


Quiz (1) 15%
Homeworks (5) 25%
Midterm exam 25%
Final exam 35%

We will cover most of parts I, II, III, IV, VI of Rossing in this course (18 chapters).

(Homeworks normally due on Fridays. Note that homeworks are the EXERCISES in the book)

Week 1 Introduction, basic physical principles, Vibrating Systems
11 January Reading: Rossing Chapter 1

Week 2 SHM, Modes of vibration, complex vibrations, vibration spectra, Fourier transform
18 January Reading: Rossing Chapter 2,3 (optional: Divell article)

Week 3 Waves, propagation, reflection, refraction, diffraction, interference, linear superposition, Doppler Effect
25 January  HW #1 due: Rossing EXERCISES Chapters 1,2,3 (p19: 2,5,9,10 p37: 3,4,6 p58: 1-10)
-- 17 questions = 102 points

Week 4 Resonance, standing waves, acoustic impedance
1 February  Reading: Rossing Chapter 4
  video: phase of driven oscillation at resonance

Week 5 Hearing, anatomy, psychoacoustics, psychophysics: Weber and Fechner's law, logarithms, critical bands, localization, Haas effect
8 February   HW #2 due: Rossing EXERCISES Chapter 4 (p73: 2,3,5,6,8) Reading: Rossing Chapter 5  -- 5 questions = 30 points
How audition works (3D simulation of auditory system)

Week 6 QUIZ 1: FRIDAY, 4 Feb (Chapters 1-5)
15 Feb
  Reading: Rossing Chapter 6 Perception of loudness, the decibel, masking (forward andi backward), origin of mp3 files

Week 7 READING BREAK (all week)
22 Feb    
Reading: Rossing Chapter 7

Week 8   Timbre, spectra of complex waveforms, beats, Helmholtz, pitch discrimination, jnd for pitch (in cents) and for amplitude (in dB).
1 March
   Time domain vs frequency domain revisited (Reading: Chapter 8 -- only sections 8.1, 8.3, 8.4, 8.10, 8.12)
Constructing a complex waveform in the time domain by adding rotating phasors (complex exponentials); for example the first 4 partials of a square wave:

Week 9 Cents, tuning, temperament
8 March   Reading: Rossing Chapter 9
Graphical representation of tunings
, Bach's scheme for the Well-Tempered Clavier
HW#3 due: Rossing EXERCISES Chapters 5,6,7 (p97: 1-6, p119: 1-5, p147: 1,2,4,8,10,11,12) -- 18 questions = 108 points

Week 10 Acoustics of stringed instruments -- violin bowing simulation, violin octet
15 March    
Reading: Rossing Chapter 10, Guitar acoustics by Arkady Futerman
MIDTERM: TUESDAY, 15 MARCH (Reference) Chapters 2-9 review test)

Week 11 Brass and Woodwinds
22 March   Reading: Rossing Chapters 11,12
Clarinet with flute mouthpiece and vice-versa:
Clarinet made from carrot!

Week 12 Percussion and keyboard instruments
29 March   Reading: Rossing Chapter 13,14

HW#4 due: Rossing EXERCISES Chapters 9-12 (p190: 1,3,4,5,7,8,9, p223: 2,3,5,6,(8), p244: 1,4, p270: 4,5,6) -- 16 questions = 96 points
(HINT: Question 3 on page 223 can't be done without "eyeballing" figure 10.7 to see how much of the time is spent slipping vs being pulled by the bow)
Modes of a vibrating plate: (Chladni patterns)

Week 13 The Human voice: Speech, singing. Room acoustics
5 April   Reading: Rossing Chapters 15, 17, 23
REVIEW and presentations
HW#5 due: Rossing EXERCISES Chapters 13-15, 17, 23 (p308: 4,6, p333: 1,5, p353: 1,7, p396: 1,3, optional: p544: 1,5,6,7) -- 8 questions = 48 points (+4 extra credit questions)
: Question 6 on p308 refers to figure 13.31, not 13.32

FINAL EXAM APRIL 20, 2022 at 9 am

In-class demos:

SHM: Simulation of multiple masses

WAVES: reflection of pulse on a string
reflected pulses (fixed end = phase reversal, free end = no phase reversal)

WAVES: interference:

Fourier: Making Waves

FOURIER: synthesis and analysis:

Fourier: Making Waves

longitudinal vs transverse waves (slinky)

standing waves

tuning fork modes

speaker phase demo

oscillator/beats demo

oscilloscope demo

realtime 3D spectrum (sndpeek)

instrument identification (removing or truncating attacks to obscure instrument identification)

whirling toy (harmonics -- use w/ tuned MSP patch)

music box (sympathetic vibrations vs resonance)

DSP programs, instrument modeling, SuperCollider, MSP

The consonant birdsong: Musican wren:


Auditory Demonstrations CD (JASA/Acoustical Society)