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Physics in Instruments



It is commonly thought that the only physics that is found in instruments is the vibration that produces the sound. And even though this is very important, for there would be no sound without that, there is more physics involved in instruments that allow us to produce sound effectively; in tune. When you tune an instrument, you are adjusting the instruments pitch so that it forms a pleasing arrangement/sound that corresponds to other instruments, or the music you are playing. The physics here is exactly what pitch is: the fundamental frequency of sound. So the vibrations produce the soundwaves that we hear as sound which is measured in hertz. One of these hertz means one cycle per second, or the frequency of the soundwave. This information begs the question; can instruments be tuned using physics rather than just by ear? Well, when an instrument is out of tune it means that it's a high or low pitch. This means that the frequency of the sound is off of what it needs to be in order to sound correct. We can see this in the fact that instruments more easily get out of tune in temperature changes. When the temperature changes it can physically cause the instrument to expand/contract, making the frequency of the sound produced to be different wave lengths. So when this happens, instead of using a tuner or using the ear to another instrument that is in tune, there is potential to re-tune the instrument using a study/analysis of the wave-length and frequency of the sound. You could match the wave-length to an instrument of proper tuning using technology and a set of math skills which could change how we tune instruments in the future.


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