My OpenLearn Profile
- Personalise your OpenLearn profile
- Save your favourite content
- Get recognition for your learning
Creating musical sounds
How do different instruments produce the sounds we classify as music? How do we decide whether something whether a piano or a vacuum cleaner is actually a musical instrument? In this free course, Creating musical sounds, we investigate the way vibrations and sound waves are harnessed to create music.
Course learning outcomes
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- Explain correctly the meaning of the emboldened terms in the main text and use them correctly in context
- Identify whether a given sound source can be classed as a musical instrument and explain why (Activity 2)
- Identify the primary vibrator and any secondary vibrators in the most common types of instrument (Activity 3)
- Appreciate that, when a note is played, a musical instrument vibrates strongly at certain specific frequencies and that these frequencies correspond to the natural frequencies of the primary vibrator; (Activity 4)
- Determine whether the sound from a given instrument is transient or sustained (Activity 5)
You can start this course right now without signing-up. Click on any of the course content sections below to start at any point in this course.
If you want to be able to track your progress, earn a free Statement of Participation, and access all course quizzes and activities, sign-up.
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Aims of Creating musical sounds
- 2 What is a musical instrument?
- 3 Sound production in musical instruments
- 4 Excitation
- 5 Primary Vibrators
- 5 Primary Vibrators
- 5.1 Standing waves
- 5.2 Vibrating string: speed of wave propagation
- 5.3 Vibrating string: standing waves on a string
- 5.4 Vibrating string: normal modes of vibration
- 5.5 Vibrating string: pitches of notes produced by stringed instruments
- 5.6 Vibrating air column
- 5.7 Vibrating air column: reflection at the end of an air column
- 5.8 Vibrating air column: standing waves in a cylindrical tube open at both ends
- 5.9 Vibrating air column: standing waves in a cylindrical tube closed at one end
- 5.10 Vibrating air column: end effects
- 5.11 Vibrating air column: standing waves in a conical tube
- 5.12 Vibrating air column: pitches of notes produced by wind instruments
- 5.13 Other primary vibrators
- 5.14 Response and damping
- 5.15 Summary of Section 5
- 6 Radiation
- Keep on learning
Create an account to get more
Track your progress
Review and track your learning through your OpenLearn Profile.
Statement of participation
On completetion of a course you will earn a Statement of participation.
Access all course activities
Take course quizzes and access all learning.
Review the course
When you have finished a course leave a review and tell others what you think.
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 and our FAQs.
Full copyright details can be found in the Acknowledgements section of each week.
For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.Have a question?
Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has nearly 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.
Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.
About this free course
20 hours study
Level 1: Introductory
Download this course
Free statement of participation on completion of these courses.