Chapter One: An Acoustics Primer
1. IntroductionAll musicians work with sound in one fashion or another, yet most have little understanding of its properties. Computer musicians, in particular, can benefit in myriad ways from an understanding of the mechanisms of sound, its objective measurements and the more subjective area of its perception. Not only is this understanding crucial to the proper use of common studio equipment and music software, but novel compositional strategies can be derived from exploiting much of the information contained in this chapter. One would expect a painter to know about the properties of paint—the same should hold true for the composer’s understanding of acoustics and psychoacoustics.
The physics of sound (acoustics) is often confused with the way in which we perceive it (psychoacoustics). This chapter begins with a study of sound’s physical characteristics and common measurements, followed by a discussion of human aural and musical perception.
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The author ("Coach" Hass) with a Helmholtz resonator made by Rudolph Koenig (1832-1901) in the archives of the Smithsonian.