These are to be undertaken by teams of 2-3 students each.


Friday, November 15: be prepared to report in class the topic you have selected and the membership of your team

Monday, December 2nd & Monday, December 9: individual group meetings with me (no class). I'll use the appointment tool in Blackboard to schedule these.

Friday, December 3: individual papers due). The final project paper will account for 8% of your course grade.

Thursday, December 19, 2-5 p.m., in our regular classroom. Final Presentations to the class and anyone else who wishes to attend. Bring your friends! The final project presentation will account for 12% of your course grade.

Friday, December 19, noon: submit by email an individual statement describing your contribution to the project and the contributions of your fellow team members

Project Suggestions

These are just ideas based on some of the many things that have been done in the past. Feel free to think up things that you are interested in and discuss them with me. We may well be able to convert your idea into a good project.

1) For a team of at least two students: design and build an instrument, composes and notates music for that instrument, presentation would involve discussion of the instrument and performance on it.

2) For a team of at least two students: select a space on campus with interesting acoustical properties, record and edit an impulse response in the space, convolve this impulse response with sound files whose sources are unlikely ever to be found in this space. Measure the dimensions of the room; determine the materials used for room surfaces; compute standing wave frequencies and reverberation time. Record the ambient sound level and identify the sources of this sound. Look at the uniformity of the sound level within the space. Prepare a report that recommends acoustical improvements for the space.

3) For a team of at least two students: design a small orchestra of Csound instruments and compose a brief piece of music for it.

4) For a team of 2-4 students: Select an instrument or small family of related instruments that we have not spent a lot of class time on and research the physics of the sound production mechanism in detail, some of the history of the instrument, and the instrument's place in the world of music.

5) For a team of about 2 students: study the physics of one of the extreme styles of vocal music such as Tibetan multi-tonal chant, or one of the forms of Tuvan throat singing. Slight variants might focus on a less extreme version of singing or on a comparative study of two or more styles. For example, why does a Bulgarian women's chorus sound so different from an American group such as Anonymous 4 or Libana.

8) A small team might collect spectrograms of a population of students and study vocal fingerprinting or some similar aspect of phonetic/spectral analysis.

8) A 2-student group could study in some detail the physics of musical compression schemes, possibly giving a careful comparison of two such schemes, eg. Comparing MP3 with OggVorbis or WMA (if you can find any useful info about WMA).

9) A 2-student group could study the physics of one or more sound reproduction technologies such as the CD. This would require detailed exploration of the physical principles of storage and retrieval and serious discussion of information representation.

Here are a few much less specific teaser ideas to help you design your own projects. You could devise and perform some interesting acoustic measurement (for example one student studied the mathematics of loudspeaker radiation patterns and compared theory with some measurements). You could extend our studies of vibration patterns on strings to other stringed instruments such as the electric guitar, making and explaining a systematic study of the effects of pick-up position and plucking position on sound. A small group of students in the past studied spectral patterns of human vowel sounds and tried to synthesise their own simulations of vowel sounds. This could be extended to other parts of speech. There are also a number of good project ideas in the textbook and I encourage you to read some of them and see if they inspire you.


Physics 175