When a person places ear buds into their ears and presses play on their phone or mp3, they suddenly get a rush of electrical signals generated by their device. With the signals flowing through the copper wires that connect the device to the ear buds, the vibrations emerge from the ear buds into the ear canal. The vibrations are then transported through the auditory system to the brain to be transposed into what people call music. These signals and vibrations are called sound waves. But what really is music? What is sound? How do these random vibrations make these occurrences?
What is music? Music is defined as an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color according to dictionary.com. What is sound? Sound is the sensation produced by stimulation of the organs of hearing by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium; mechanical vibrations transmitted through an elastic medium, traveling in air at a speed of approximately 1087 feet (331 meters) per second at sea level (Sound, 2014). To put that into simpler terms, sound is manufactured when an object moves and creates friction to make vibrations.
Take, for example, a violin. For a violin to make a sound, a bow has to be drug across its strings to make vibrations. Most often people would use rosin on the bow to give the bow more friction on the strings and make it easier to vibrate the strings to make sound. The vibrations radiate through the violin’s hollow body to create a specific sound unique to the violin. This is how music is started.
Next, a musician would place a finger on the string of the violin to make the sound higher or lower or to trill the note. A trill is when a two notes next to each other on the Ionian scale are played back and forth rapidly (What are the…, 2014). When making a musical note higher or lower, pitch and frequency (Hz) are involved. Hertz, or frequency, is how many times an object vibrates per second. One vibration per second is one Hertz, for instance (Hewitt, 1998). A tuning fork, for example, vibrates at 256 vibrations per second, or 256 Hz, which is commonly known as the note C, third octave on a piano, or middle C to those piano people (Tuning Forks, 2014). This leads to pitch, which is a perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale (Anssi Klapuri, 2006). In other terms, pitch is the frequency of a sound that is relatable to scaled notes or the heightened or lowered frequency of a sound or note.
Let’s look, again, at the violin. To create a sound, the bow is drug across the strings to vibrate them and radiate the vibrations from the body of the violin out into the open space making sound. The musician would then place his finger on a string to make a specific pitch, or note, that would make the frequency of the sound speed up or slow down depending on where the starting note was. If the...