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The Physics Behind Woodwind Instruments

Ever played the flute, oboe, saxophone, clarinet, bassoon or any other woodwind instrument? Find out how they work in this presentation!

Risha Raghav

on 11 May 2014

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Transcript of The Physics Behind Woodwind Instruments

The Physics Behind Woodwind Instruments
Two main types of woodwinds
Single Reed Instruments
E.g. clarinets, saxophones
Double Reed instruments
E.g. oboe, bassoon
It is good to develop an understanding of the nature of waves, so we can apply our knowledge to everyday situations such as in the music we listen to!
Reed instruments
What's it got to do with woodwinds?
What causes resonance in woodwinds?
What do we mean by a standing wave?
How do we make musical sounds?
A pattern where some points on the pattern remain fixed while others between them vibrate with the maximum amplitude
Wooden strips vibrate to match one of the natural frequencies of the instrument. The air column inside of the tube making up the instrument also vibrates. We hear a loud sound.

Shorter tube = smaller wavelength, frequency increases (higher pitches). The length of the column is controlled by opening and closing the holes within the metal tube
Sounds = vibrations in the air

Vibrations are at a constant frequency

Freq. is related to pitch. We want a stable pitch

Sound = easily controlled by the player

Two opposing waves combine = standing waves
Nodes occur at fixed ends and anti-nodes at open ends
The air in them vibrates because the tube is vibrating due to another object pushing the tube at a certain frequency = resonance

RESONANCE = when one object vibrating at the same natural frequency (but with a higher amplitude) of a second object (in this case the tube) forces the second object to vibrate as well

The same atmospheric pressure on both ends
By Susanna, Meghna and Risha
like pushing someone on a swing
4 Crazy things you can do with sound!

1. Weaponise it - fire a beam of sound
2. Kill someone sound pressure ear drums lungs and internal organs shatter/ rupture
3. Navigate with it - if you are a bird. We know that many animals, like bats, navigate with supersonic sound waves. But until recently, scientists couldn’t figure out exactly how birds were able to fly such huge distances and find their way back home. By analyzing a series of studies, scientists concluded that birds create “sound maps” to navigate.
4. Fight crime with it - Quick, if you were asked to deter loitering at a subway station, who would you hire? A security guard? A creepy clown? How about Mozart? Many business and city officials have started pumping classical music out onto the streets in high crime areas to discourage criminal activity.
It seems to be working.
Full transcript