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Tuba physics


jcstack6

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Physics plays a massive part in music, whether instrumental or vocal, but physicists and musicians rarely realize the depth of the relationship between the two. As a tubist and a physics student, I find how closely intertwined physics and music are to be intriguing. Most people know that the tuba is an incredibly low instrument, second only to the contrabass saxophone, which is rarely found in a concert band anyway, but when asked why it is, the most common answer is because its big. This answer isn't totally incorrect, but there is so much more to be considered in terms of the physics that makes the length of the tubas tubing contribute to its incredibly low sound.

The low sound of a tuba can be attributed to the low frequency of sound waves that the tuba produces, but what is the real reason for the low frequency produced? The answer to this is found in the size of the instrument. The tuba is made up of about 16 feet of tubing. The length of the instrument causes the wave length of the sound it produces to be very long. Therefore, because frequency equals the speed of the wave divided by the wavelength, a greater wavelength will yield a lower frequency. The physics behind music is something astounding yet often glossed over. 

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That's really cool.  So the reason why a trumpet is so high is because the instrument's length is small therefore a short wavelength.  So due to your equation, a short wavelength equals a high frequency.

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I heard someone tried dribbling a tuba down in the band room this week and caused some damage.  Coefficients of restitution for band instruments are, apparently, fairly low.

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