Music 539: Acoustics, PsychoAcoustics, and Much More

Music 539: Acoustics, PsychoAcoustics, and Compositional Resources

Perry Cook
Mondays, 2:45 - 5:45
Room 104, Woolworth Music Building

This seminar will cover aspects of physical acoustics, and aspects of human audition and sound perception. We will see some examples of how those areas have indirectly and directly affected composition in the past, and how those areas have been directly exploited by some composers of modern times. Each session will contain some coverage of basic acoustics, some aspect of psychoacoustics, and some listening to sound examples and musical compositions which demonstrate those ideas. The use of the computer both as a tool of research discovery and composition will be emphasized. Significant time in each session will be devoted to informal presentations of musical works (either existing musical works or works newly created by participants in the seminar), showing where the example exploited an aspect of acoustics and/or psychoacoustics.

Topics to be Covered:

These are not particularly in order. Nor is it exhaustive.
But we'll all be exhausted when we're finished.

    1) Acoustics and PsychoAcoustics Background, JNDs, other NDs
    2) Loudness
    3) Pitch
    4) Timbre
    5) Critical Bands
    6) Scales and Tonality
    7) Space, Location, Motion
    8) Auditory Scene Analysis, Gestalt Grouping
    9) The Voice and Vocality
    10) Randomness, Noise, other Stochastic things.
    11) Music Technology and Acoustics

Syllabus As It Develops:

February 9: Physics Basics, The Vibrating String
Listening: Jaffe's Silicon Valley Breakdown
Reading: Handout 1: Physics Basics and Acoustics Basics Notes

February 16: More Vibrating String, The Acoustic Tube,
Linear Systems
Reading: Handout 1 still, Handout 2: Filters and the Fourier Transform

February 23: Sine Waves, the Fourier Series and Transform
Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
Reading: Psychoacoustics Book Chapters 3, 4, 13

March 2: More Sines and Phase, Loudness
Reading: Psychoacoustics Book Chapter 6

March 9: Masking in Frequency and Time, The Ear and Auditory Brain
Reading: Psychoacoustics Book Chapters 1 and 2

March 16: Break Week

March 23: Pitch, Time vs. Freq., Mel Scale
Reading: Psychoacoustics Book Chapters 5 and 13

March 30: More Pitch, Gestalt Grouping, Streaming
Reading: Psychoacoustics Book Chapters 3 and 13

April 6: Scales and Tuning Systems
Reading: Psychoacoustics Book Chapter 14

April 13: More Scales and Tuning Systems, Timbre
Reading: Psychoacoustics Book Chapters 14 and 7

April 20: More Timbre, Non-Linearity
Reading: Psychoacoustics Book Chapters 7 and 21