Light, Sound and Waves

Poor taste in music? Blame your skull’s resonance!

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

An intriguing paper given at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America has suggested that your musical preferences may be determined by the resonant frequencies of your skull. The human cochlea is embedded in the skull’s temporal bone, which creates a resonant structure that selectively amplifies some frequencies. This structure explains the commonly reported observation that people report that their voice sounds different when they listen to recordings of themselves compared to their own perception of their speech.

The authors of the paper asked participants to tap their heads whilst a microphone was attached to their temporal bone to determine the resonant frequencies of each individual’s skull. The resonant frequencies were found to be in the range of 35 to 65 Hz, with women having, on average, higher fundamental frequencies than men due to their smaller mean skull size. The fundamental resonant frequency of the participants’ skulls was found to predict which musical keys the listener preferred.


is a special case of Oscillation
is exhibited by Resonating System
can be analysed using the quantity Resonant Frequency Natural Frequency
Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today