Physics 167 - Descriptive Acoustics of Music and Speech

Course Information

Offered Fall and Winter Semesters

Physics 167 Winter 2016
M/W/F 10:00 - 10:50 am (3 credits)
C215 Eyring Science Center

Official Course Description

What's in Physics 167?

Physics 167, Descriptive Acoustics of Music and Speech, takes sound in everyday contexts - hearing, speech, music, and listening environments - and uses it as a vehicle to provide students from a variety of majors an opportunity to their disciplines from a complementary physical science viewpoint.  Acoustics is an area of physics that is interrelated with many other disciplines, including music, speech, hearing, psychology, architecture, languages, linguistics, drama, special education, sound recording, engineering, computer science, and others.   In the course, we learn about basic wave phenomena as they relate to acoustics, learn about a few simple models of pipes, strings, and springs, and then show how they can be used to explain so many different systems!

Who can take Physics 167?

Everyone!  No prior physics coursework is required.  This fulfills a Natural Science GE requirement and is a recommended course for several majors.  The class is mostly descriptive in nature, requiring only basic math skills to help describe different physical models of the ear, the clarinet, etc.

Who should take Physics 167?

Everyone!  See the student comments below.  The GE office has described the course as one of the "hidden gems" on campus.  Besides, you'll get to visit BYU's anechoic chamber!

Actual Student Comments from 2013

  • Wow! I wasn't expecting to love a GE class so much! Learning about acoustics has changed the way I see many things. When I'm listening to headphones versus speakers, I can notice bandwidth differences; when I go to concerts, I notice the acoustics of the room. I recommended the class to all of my friends. I think that everyone should take acoustics!
  • This is such a fantastic class!! It should definitely be advertized more to the students, especially those who would benefit from the extra knowledge about sound (music majors, communication disorders majors, linguistics majors, musical theater majors, etc.).
  •  I really enjoyed this class! I was really nervous because I have struggled in physics classes before, but the structure of this course allowed me to really grasp some concepts that I hadn't before.
  • Love, love, love, love this class. I'm really considering a physics major after this. I learned a ton but also never had any stress over the class. I've been recommending this course to all my friends.
  • I enjoyed this class so much! I usually don't enjoy science classes very much, but this class was so much fun! It wasn't necessarily just an easy A either; it required work and participation. This is such an interesting subject, and I really loved learning the physics principles behind music, speech, and audio.
  • I absolutely loved this class. It really helped to reawaken in me a love for learning that I had lost in previous semesters. I loved being able to apply acoustics to everyday life. Thank you so much!

Although I'm sad I didn't help the student better define physics, this has to be one of my favorite comments of all time.  It helps illustrate how physics is applicable in so many ways.  Rather sneaky, really:

  • The only problem I had with this class is that it was slightly misinformative in that I thought it was a strictly physics class instead of a class that talked about the ear, music and sound. I actually didn't learn any physics in this class.