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Sound and music. A bit of theory about sound and music


The word “sound” defines two concepts: the first is sound as a physical phenomenon; the second is sound as sensation.

1) During the vibration of an elastic body, such as a string, in the air surrounding it, pressure fluctuations occur, which propagate in space due to the elastic properties of the air.

These vibrations are called sound waves. They propagate from the sound source in all directions (that is, each individual wave represents a rapidly expanding sphere of high or low pressure).

2) Sound waves are captured by the auditory organ and cause irritation in it, which is transmitted through the nervous system to the brain, creating a sensation of sound.


We perceive a large number of different sounds. But not all sounds are equally used in music. In musical theory, it is customary to distinguish between musical sounds and noise sounds.

Noise sounds do not have a pronounced pitch, for example, crackling, creaking, knocking, thunder, rustling, etc. Noise instruments are used only as a decoration or to give the music an emotional richness. Such instruments include almost all percussion instruments: a triangle, a snare drum, various types of cymbals, a snare drum, etc. There is a certain amount of conditionality in this that should not be forgotten. For example, such a percussion instrument as a “wooden box” has a sound with a fairly pronounced pitch, but this instrument is still considered a noise instrument. Therefore, it is more reliable to distinguish noise instruments by the criterion whether it is possible to play a melody on this instrument or not.

The physical nature of musical sound is determined by several properties; These include: HEIGHT, VOLUME, and TONE.

In addition, the duration of sound is of great importance in music. The fact that the sound will be longer or shorter does not change its physical nature, however, from the point of view of music, the duration of the sound is just as important as its other properties, since the artistic content of the sound depends on the duration, or in other words, its “mood” ”

Now we will consider each property of a musical sound separately.

The pitch of sound is determined by the oscillation frequency of the vibrating body. The more often the vibrations, the higher the sound, and vice versa.

The sound volume is determined by the energy of the vibrational movements, that is, the amplitude of the vibrations. The wider the amplitude of the oscillations, the louder the sound, and vice versa:

Sound and music (A bit of theory about sound and music)

TEMBROM is called the qualitative side of the sound, its color. To determine the characteristics of a timbre in a musical environment, words from the field of sensations, metaphor terms are used, for example, they say: the sound is soft, sharp, thick, ringing, melodious, etc. Each instrument or human voice has a characteristic timbre, and even one the instrument is capable of making a sound of various colors.

The difference in tones depends on the composition of the partial tones (natural overtones or overtones) that are inherent in each sound source.

PARTIAL TONES, or, otherwise, overtones – the upper tone – (German) are inevitable impurities present in a sound of any nature. Their frequencies are always multiples of the frequency of the main sound, and their number and volume can vary greatly, due to which a different timbre color of the sound is formed.

SOUND DURATION – the duration of the oscillations of the sound source. If an elastic body provided by its own inertia (for example, a string) sounds, then the duration of the sound is proportional to the amplitude of the oscillations at the beginning of the sound.


In practice, a sound wave always has a rather complex shape, often far from being a mathematical sine wave. This happens due to the fact that the oscillating body (string), vibrating, is refracted in equal parts. These parts produce independent vibrations in the general process of vibration of the body and form additional waves corresponding to their length. Additional (simple) vibrations and cause the formation of partial tones. The pitch of the partial tones is different, since the speed of oscillation of the waves from which they are formed is not the same.

For example, if a string reproduced only the fundamental tone, then its waveform would correspond to the following graphic image:

Sound and music (A bit of theory about sound and music)

The wavelength of the second partial tone, formed from half the string, B is two times shorter than the fundamental tone wave, and its vibration frequency is twice as likely, etc.

Sound and music (A bit of theory about sound and music)

If we take for unity the number of vibrations of the first sound (fundamental tone) of the string, then the numbers of vibrations of partial tones are expressed by a number of prime numbers:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, etc.

This series of sounds is called natural scale.

Taking the sound up to the big octave as the main tone, we can build a series of sounds with frequencies corresponding to this regularity:

Sound and music (A bit of theory about sound and music)

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