Instructor Resources


Course Materials: Text

Our text is Measured Tones: The Interplay of Physics and Music by Ian Johnston, 2 nd ed., published by Institute of Physics Publishing. Written by a physicist who is also a very knowledgeable musician, it describes the parallel histories of physics and music. Each chapter introduces and explains a physical principle. Following each chapter is an Interlude that comprises an in-depth study of the instrument or instrument family that best illustrates these physical principles. As part of each Interlude, students brought their instruments to class to demonstrate the science behind the sound.Problem sets developed by the author are available at


Course Materials: Classroom Tools

Our pedagogical tools included the following:

  • Readings, lectures, demonstrations
  • Anatomical models – ear, larynx
  • Student demonstrations of instruments
  • Student final projects
  • Music – played at beginning of every class. Special projects included:
    • Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, first movement. We listened and examined the score. Bach is compelled to modify the trumpet imitation of the flute part because certain pitches do not exist in the harmonic series of the trumpet in F.
    • Six Degrees of Tonality: A Well-Tempered Piano, Enid Katahn, pianist. CD, Gasparo Records, Inc., GSCD-344, 2000. We used the three performances of the Mozart Fantasie in d minor for a temperament comparison (1/4 Comma Meantone, Prelleur 1731, and Equal).
    • Auditory Demonstrations, 39 psychoacoustic demonstrations prepared at the Institute for Perception Research (IPO), Eindhoven, The Netherlands, in association with the Acoustical Society of America. We listened to a Bach chorale played backward and rerecorded forward to demonstrate envelope and used several psychoacoustic demonstrations.
  • Videos –
    • Leonard Bernstein, The Unanswered Question, “Musical Phonology,” from the 1973 Norton Lectures at Harvard. We viewed the coverage of the harmonic series.
    • We viewed miscellaneous videos showing the action of the larynx via the laryngoscope.
  • Software –
    • LoggerPro to capture sound, perform Fourier analysis, and display waveform and spectrum
    • SawCutter 2 –
    • This soft synth allows easy manipulation of waveforms and envelopes to alter sounds.


External Links

Websites -

Course Materials:Laboratory Activities