The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Thinking Allowed July 2016: Food bank Britain, Food poverty in EuropeMonday, 25th July 2016 00:15 - BBC Radio 4This episode looks at food poverty in Britain and Europe. Read more: Thinking Allowed July 2016: Food bank Britain, Food poverty in Europe
Full Steam Ahead: Episode oneAvailable until Monday, 22nd August 2016 17:30The first episode of Full Steam Ahead looks at the way Britain changed in the 19th century due to the railways Read more: Full Steam Ahead: Episode one
Thinking Allowed July 2016: Food bank Britain, Food poverty in EuropeAvailable for over a year
Exodus: Our Journey To Europe: EPISODE 3Available until Friday, 19th August 2016 01:15
Exodus: Our Journey To Europe: EPISODE 2Available until Friday, 19th August 2016 00:15
OpenLearn Live: 22nd July 2016A biochemist with a fearsome reputation; how drones are helping ferrets and keeping your workers... Read more: OpenLearn Live: 22nd July 2016
Full Steam AheadIt’s Full Steam Ahead for historians Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn as they bring... Read more: Full Steam Ahead
Employment relations and employee engagementThis free course, Employment relations and employee engagement, looks at raising levels of... Try: Employment relations and employee engagement now
Introduction to cyber securityThis free course, Introduction to cyber security, will help you to understand online security and... Try: Introduction to cyber security now
Whether you're a professional musician, play music with your friends on the weekends or just like to listen to CDs, music technology affects your life. In this free course, Sound for music technology: An introduction, you will learn some of the basics of music technology, starting with what sound is, how it is created and how it travels.
After studying this unit, you should be able to:
- explain correctly the meaning of the emboldened terms in the main text and use them correctly in context;
- describe simply what a pressure wave is and give a simple explanation of sound in terms of a travelling pressure wave;
- explain ‘cycle’ in terms of an oscillating source and the pressure wave it produces;
- relate amplitude (including peak-to-peak and r.m.s.), frequency, period and wavelength to a sinusoidal waveform;
- calculate the wavelength of a pressure wave from a graph of pressure against distance;
- relate the distance that a pressure wave travels to the number of cycles of oscillation performed by the source in a given length of time;
- calculate the period of a pressure wave from a graph of pressure against time, and hence calculate the frequency;
- perform simple distance and time calculations for sound, given the speed of sound;
- use the formula v = f × λ perform simple calculations relating speed, frequency and wavelength of sound;
- explain phase difference and how it is quantified, and be able to relate cancellation and reinforcement to phase difference;
- calculate phase difference in seconds, degrees or fractions of a cycle from a graph showing two sine waves;
- read or calculate the amplitude, peak-to-peak amplitude and r.m.s. amplitude of a sine wave from its graph, given data relating amplitude to r.m.s. amplitude;
- discuss the relationship between amplitude and loudness, and between frequency and pitch;
- discuss the significance of the octave in terms of frequency and in terms of pitch, and the role of the octave in relation to musical scales;
- perform simple frequency calculations in connection with octave-related pitches;
- specify approximately where in the human frequency range the sounds used in music lie, in terms of both their pitches and the extent of the frequencies spanned by their harmonics;
- explain the use of the decibel as a way of representing sound pressure level;
- perform simple decibel calculations, given a table or graph relating decibels to ratios.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Sound basics
- 2 Sinusoidal pressure waves
- 3 Frequency
- 4 The speed of sound
- 5 Phase
- 6 Amplitude
- 7 Pitch and loudness
- 8 The octave
- 9 The ranges of human hearing
- 10 The decibel
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Sound for music technology: An introduction
This unit contains material that is essential to learning about music technology. Here you will explore the concept of sound and be introduced to the physics behind travelling pressure waves as the physical manifestation of sound. You will also learn about the subjective perception of pitch and loudness, in particular their relationship to frequency and amplitude.
This free course is an adapted extract relevant to The Open University course TA212 The technology of music, which is no longer taught by the University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Technology courses or view the range of currently available OU Technology courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 7th July 2011
Last updated on: Friday, 26th September 2014
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.