Physics of Music

Project aims:

● To increase awareness of the physics involved in producing sound using different musical instruments.

● To reach a diverse audience who are not normally involved in physics and widening the public understanding of science.

● To provide a lasting legacy of physics within the folk community in the North of England.

Summary of activity:

The project involved three hands-on workshops, delivered to a mixed audience. The first workshop covered the basics of sound, the second examined in more detail the differences between musical instruments, and the third examined the difference between “sound” and “music”, the musical scale, and how sound is recorded.

Evaluation approach:

What went well:

The appreciation and acceptance of the Folk Community to the workshops, and the positive comments that were received throughout.

How well the more open format of the third session worked, it was fantastic to encourage people to talk and discuss scientific issues - although it would be inappropriate for the first couple of sessions.

The willingness of people to attend the sessions, clearly indicating a demand for this type of workshop in the future.

What was learned:

Make better use of assistants - for a lot of the time they were standing around while I was giving the session, rather than helping out - for instance having them able to lead different parts of the presentation.

Using coloured string on Melde’s experiment, as it was difficult for a lot of people to see

Skip the section on recording (based on feedback), or move it to a fourth (or even fifth) workshop on the technology behind music, as it didn’t hang together with the rest of the content

Use the detailed feedback to continue to develop the workshop for future festivals and shows.

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About the contributor

Richard Hornby

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