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MusicHB ACAT1003

ACAT1003     Physics and Psychophysics of Music

A one-hour lecture and a one-hour tutorial each week in Semester 1.


To gain an understanding of basic theories of acoustics and psychoacoustics as they apply to music.

Acoustic principles and their application to sound synthesis and to acoustic and electroacoustic musical instruments:

  • units;
  • pressure fronts and loudness;
  • harmonic motion;
  • damped and forced oscillations; -transmission of sound through various mediums;
  • superimposition of waves and perception of same;
  • timbre;
  • ear physiology;
  • an introduction to the psychoacoustics of pitch, loudness and timbre;
  • combination tones and the non-linearity of perception;
  • consonance and dissonance;
  • tuning and temperament;
  • musical scales and modes.

Assignments-30%. Examination-70%.

To be advised.


Olsen, H.E, Music, Physics and Engineering, Dover, 1967.
Pierce, J.R., The Science of Musical Sound, Scientific American Library, 1983, distr. WH. Freeman & Co.
Rigden, J.S., Physics and the Sound of Music, Wiley, 1977.
Roederer, J.G., Introduction to the Physics and Psychophysics of Music, The English Universities Press, 1973.
Helmholtz, H.L.E, On the Sensation of Tone, Dover, 1954.


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