The Physics Of Music Psychology Essay


Jeans has mentioned that the physics of music is one of the interesting branches of musicology. Books on the physics of music written with the background of European music are in existence. Some scholarly musicians having written with the background of Indian music too. First one thing it is sure that music is also a scientific subject which has some basic qualities of physics. The basis of all fine arts is an attempt to express beauty in from or colour or sounds. A cultivated mind found in a canalized human being can discover this beauty as it is able to discover truth, goodness and godliness. Although the appeal of all arts is primarily to induce our emotions we cannot minimized if one wants to appreciate every work of art and its beauty that particular art should be considered from two points of view, the one is objective and the other is subjective. Similarly Olson (1976) has mentioned that except in Music the objective side can be studied leisurely in all other arts are static, Music is the only art which is only dynamic. The volatile character of the sound which is produced through music makes it difficult to the perceived leisurely. One has to hear the same piece many times in order to comprehend the objective side of it happen music many a times. It is only by giving the closest attention and concentration regarding the piece as a whole one can derive the maximum aesthetic enjoyment of the same. There are three levels of appreciation for any art, and they are the physical, the physiological and the psychical. Carnatic music will easily anyone that rhythm involves considerable thought and alertness in execution.

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According to Thomas, Rossing and Wheeler (2002) European music shows very striking and characteric difference from carnatic music. But there is one fundmental principle under lying in both the music each limits itself to a definite scale or series of notes and its music intervals. There were originally seven notes to the Octave and they have been increased in course of time European music has stopped with twelve notes to the octave with major and minor Peales. That has left their composers free to modulate into a different key for the sake of variety and return again to the original key. In their desire for extend the possibilities of modulation they have abandoned correct intonation. On the other hand, carnatic music has not only kept correct intonation but has included wide range microtonal variations in pitch. It has developed the melody model or ragas to an astounding degree. The development of sales and the devices adopted for modulation have all been well understood on the objective side. But the same tactics cannot be saved of the various ragas of carnatic music there is ample scope for understanding the object side of these ragas. It this study is not done the essence of carnatic music will be missed. In European music an understanding of the phenomena of consonance and dissonance on the objective side has made the choice of consonant that the present development in European music would not have been possible without this knowledge. Hopkin (1996) has described that the objective side of rhythm has been understood in both the rhythm of music. Complicated time-measures are used frequently in Carnatic music. All these have been systematically and methodically classified. The well known treatise named Sangeetha Ratnakara, on Carnatic music explains 120 types of different time measures. It is said many of them have become obsolete now. The prevailing classification has seven talas each of which has fine jatis or classes. The five jatis are further classified according to the number of aksharas. To play all these time measures the technique of percussion instruments has been developed to an enormous degree in Carnatic music. Thus rhythm is more intricate in Carnatic music than in European music.

A comparative study of the objective side of the three elements melody harmony and rhythm in both the systems of music will certainly contribute to the improvement of both. The sound producing parts of a musical instrument will help us in make in general perform two distinct functions. Some parts are designed for the musical vibrations and amplify them by resonance. The resulting sounds depend largely upon the Bind of sympathy existing between the variation parts of the instruments (Kahrs and Brandenburg, 1998).

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According to Ballintijn and Cate (1998) Western scientists particularly D.C. Miller and helonholtize have instruments. But in india that line of research in yet to the pursued. Almost all our instrument in use now has not been altered in the smallest detailed from their ancient forms. The manufacture of the instruments is still in the hands of ordinary cabinet makers who are ignorant of elementary acoastoes considerable improvement is possible both in the shape and the material of them instruments which in bound to react favourable on the quality of the sounds elicited.

1.2 The role of Ear

Benzon (2001) has mentioned that the mechanism of hearing is a subject which touches various branches of science. The ear as a physical instrument possesses remarkable characteristics; It stands foremost among all the receivers of sounds. Its powers of analysis its sensitiveness over wide ranges of intensity and frequency, the perception of direction by means of both the ears have been very helpful in receiving sound. Of all the special feature of the human ear, its power of analyzing a complese note stands supreme. Ear is one of the delicate organs just like the body mouth, eye and nose. The ear has three parts, namely

Outer ear

Middle ear and inner ear

In the outer ear we have first the pinna, the Auditory canal and the Arum skin. Pinna is found only in the ears of men and animals. It is not found in birds. On the sides of Auditing canal is found a kind of wax which prevents ants and other insects from entering the ear. At the end of Auditing canal is found the Drum skin. In the middle ear we find three connected bones called oscicles. One end of the three bones is connected with Drum skin and another end with the inner ear. The range of pitch to which the human ear is sensitive depends upon the individual. It also various with time for the same person. The highest pitch andible is also somewhat uncertain, the lowest frequency sensed as a note is given variously, but may be taken as about 16 vibrations per second. For musical purposes frequencies ranging from 40 to 5000 per second alone are used. Making a comparison with the other sense organ namely the eye it can be observed that while the eye sees only octave the ear hears about eleven octaves of which seven are used in music Thompson, Schellenberg and Husain, 2004).

According to Fee et al. (1998) the ear can manufacture certain tones quite apart from those present outside the ear had been found out as early as the eighteenth century. It was jactini, a famous friend violinist, who first noticed that when two notes a fifth apart in the middle of the scale were played on the organs, together with these notes a new low note was heard whose frequency was the difference of the two higher pitched notes. This is now knoare as the differential tone. Helmholtz further discovered another tone whose frequency is the sum of the original frequencies. These subjective combinational tones are attributed to the non-linear characteristic of the ear. In wind instruments flutes with thicker walls those with longer circumference give lower note and flute with thinner walls and smaller circumference give higher pitch. In percussion instruments, those with thinner skins will give lower notes. Thus is the pitch of sound produced? The same note may be produced with varying loudness.

Juslin and Laukka (2003) has mentioned that these lows can be mathematically expressed as follows.

1f= the frequency of the fundamental note

L= the length of vibrating segment of string

T= the tension of the string (T=mg)

{m = mass of the land, g = acceleration due to gravity}

M = linear density or mass per unit length of the string

Tension on 'T' and linear density (m) being constant, the fundamental frequency of the note 'n' is inversely proportional to the length of the sting.

N is X 1/1 (0s)

nL = K1/L where k is a constant (0s)

nL = K = constant.

'L' and m being kept constant 'n' is directly proportional to T.

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N is x √T (or)

n2 xT (or)

n2/T = constant.

'L' and 'T' being constant,

'n' is inversely proportional to M

I,e n1/m or n2m = constant

1.3 The role of larynx and the Ear in the sphere of Physics and Music

Vocal Chords or Larynx is the organ of speech for man. This can be compared to a musical instrument in fact the vocal chords is considered to be the best of all the instruments in the world. The organ by which voice is produced is known as lazynse. It is popularly known as the voice box. This is situated between the back of the mouth and the top of the wind pipe thus forming the upper part of the tube of communication between external air and the lungs. In general the great is called larynx. The muscles of the throute are formed in such a way that the air breathe in goes through the sound box into the wind pipe, while the food we take reaches the food canal. The air we breathe out comes through the sound box and let off through the threat mouth and nose. The sound box is made of four tender boxes. Inside this box there are two soft skins known as vocal chords. These are pulled by some muscles in such a way that the vocal chords serve like a door to the wind pipe. The vocal chords are longer presides for the teenagers the voice cards will be more tender so that they can sing in shrill voice (Roads and Straws, 1985).

According to Markel and Gray (1976) the voice of a person will depend not only on the nature of his larynx, but also on the shape of the mouth and nose. We will be able to produce sound been without the movement of the larynx. When we speak very softly, we produce the sound first by the movement of the lift. When a person pings, the vibrations of his voice coming from the larynx get strengthened as they pass through the throat, mouth and nose. Man's voice is able to produce the sound which no other musical instrument can produce. The German scientist Hemholtz has made an experiment and has found out how man in able to distinguish between one sound and another.

Robb and Saxman (1988) have described that in the vocal organ the lungs act as a kind of bellows increasing the pressure of the air below the cords in vibration. The vibrations are then communicated in turn to the resonant air charities formed by the larynx, the front and back parts of the moth separated by the frequently is made possible by the muscles which control the width of the glottis and the tension on the cords. Alternations in the intensity of the glottis. The vocal mechanism has been described by some physicists as resembling a string instrument and by others it is likened to a wind instrument. In fact it is a combination of both in that it resembles a string instrument in its vibrator and a wind instrument in its generator. More recently it has been found out that the function of vocal cord is to induce vortex formation in the stream of air as it passes through the gloltis and thus generate the sound. The shrill notes which we hear when the wind blows over the telegraph wire or through stalks of corn or blades of grass are cited as examples. Anyway the vibration of the vocal cords plays an important role in sound production.

The familiar phenomenon of the braking of a boy's voice in his teens is due to the rapid growth of t he larynx and the corresponding increase in the length of the cords. The best human voice has a range of three and a half octaves although in practice few people are able to sing in more than two octaves. The chest Register "and" the Head Register are the recognized voice of men Between these two kinds there is a break in the voice which is disguised by practice. At lower frequency the chest voice is used. It is found then that the slit between the cords is very narrow and long and the cords vibrate as a whole. For the higher notes the head voice is employed and in this case it is found that the vocal cords are wide apart with only their innermost margins vibrating (McKinney, 1982).

Mithen (2005) has mentioned that voice training is an art by itself though its significance has not been fully recognized by our musicians. It is well noticed that among distinguished vocalists only a few have been endowed with good voices. A good voice in the first requisite for a localist. It is quite true that not everybody is lucky enough to possers a rich voice. But even ordinary voices can be improved considerably through proper training. Knowledge of the physics of the human voice will be very much useful regarding this training of voice. In training the voice, proper control over the muscles regulating the air stream and those concerned in the mechanism of the larynx should be obtained first. One has a certain amount of direct control over the muscles which regulate breathing and also over those which cause movements of the tongue, lip and soft palate etc. The muscles of the larynx cannot be exercised independently. The control over them that makes singing possible depends entirely on the ear and the brain centers connected with it. It is because of this the deaf children can be trained to speak but not to sing. This is also obvious from this fact that one is able to sing range perfectly by constant hearing alone without learning the theory of the combinations of notes. It the breathing muscles are not properly controlled, extreme unevenness of the will result. This research intends to investigate in detail the physics associated with musical instruments.

1.4 Problem Identified:

The physics behind the musical instruments is simply astonishing. The sounds coming from musical instruments are available because of standing waves which arise from constructive interference between waves migrating in both directions along a tube or a string. Music and physics are related closely because music is a sound and the sound is a branch of physics but they are also linked in another way. Both are innovative endeavours highly. Heisenberg and Schroedinger gave us quantum theory and Einstein gave us quantum mechanics whereas Chopin gave us an array of wonderful pieces of piano and Beethoven gave us numerous beautiful symphonies. Thus music and physics are both mind products. Physics may form an image of complicated and critical maths for some people but for many people it is an enjoyable and delightful endeavour. This research tries to further explore the relationship by identifying the physics in musical instruments. This study will particularly place its focus on string, wind and percussion instruments.

1.4 Significance of the Study:

This study describes about the stringed instruments, wind instruments and percussion instruments. The string instruments must be played without or with a bow. These instruments generate sounds when plucked, slapped, strummed or struck. The easiest way a string can sound in a standing wave condition is with the two needed nodes at the string ends and an antinode in the mid of the string. All the instruments of string are possible in different sizes that are proportional to child sized bodies. Bowing permits very sustained and big notes with interesting dynamics for people to hear the music. Whereas wind instruments generates sound by a vibrating air column either using the lips of a musician or using a reed. It is categorized into two types brasswinds and woodwinds. The wind instruments are comprised of animal horns in ancient civilization which generates a warning signal. Lastly percussion instruments are struck, shaken or scraped to make a music. Percussion instruments can add intensity and fun to a performance. The percussion instruments have varied pitches that plays as mallets strike the keys. Percussion instruments always generate a better rhythm sense. Thus this study describes about these 3 major instruments which produce various sounds.

1.5 Aims of the study:

The aim of the study is to understand how the concept of physics could be related to musical instruments.

Objectives of the study:

To understand the basic concepts of waves and sounds.

To study about the types of musical scales.

To study the physics of stringed instruments.

To study the physics of wind instruments.

To study the physics of percussion instruments

1.6 Chapterisation Plan:

This study is comprised of the following seven chapters. The following is a summarization of each chapter's contents present in this study

Chapter 1: Introduction: This chapter explains about the background, justification, problem statement, objectives and significance of the study.

Chapter 2: Review of literature: This chapter reviews the literature related to physics in music as well as musical instruments.

Chapter 3: Methodology: This chapter gives a summary of research strategy, research design, sampling plan, and sampling design, types of data and techniques of data analysis and interpretation adopted by researcher to organize this study.

Chapter 4: Physics of string instruments: This chapter explains the physics involved behind the operation of musical string instruments.

Chapter 5: Physics of percussion instruments: This chapter explains the physics involved behind the operation of musical percussion instruments.

Chapter 6: Physics of wind instruments: This chapter explains the physics involved behind the operation of musical wind instruments.

Chapter 7: Conclusion: This chapter describes an overview of findings acquired in the section of data analysis along with the study's conclusion followed by strategies for development and suggestions for future research.

Besides, this research study has a section for bibliography consisting of sources that were used in conducting the research followed by the section of an appendix that has details like tools if any used in the research.