Practical Activity for 14-16
This experiment could supplement a few demonstrations about standing waves, with students playing their own musical instruments.
Apparatus and Materials
- Ore-amplifier (if necessary)
- Assorted musical instruments
Health & Safety and Technical Notes
Connect the microphone to the AC input of the oscilloscope. Initially set the timebase to 1ms/div.
Use the oscilloscope to examine the different waveforms of the sounds produced by different instruments.
- Standing waves are set up when musical instruments are either plucked, blown, struck, or stroked. Usually the standing wave pattern is a complex one, and waves of several different frequencies are present.
- Useful references include the following:
- Science Enhancement Programme booklet Voicebox: the physics and evolution of speech - available from Mindsets:
- Charles Taylor (1992) Exploring Music: The Science and Technology of Tones and Tunes Bristol: Institute of Physics Publishing
- Scientific American (1978) The Physics of Music San Francisco: W H Freeman and Company
This experiment has yet to undergo a health and safety check.