Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sounds around the world

This is a COOL website. It's a world sound map, where you can click on a site on the world map, and be taken to recordings of ambient sounds going on in that location. It's amazing! Monkeys and birds in the rainforest! Rustling leaves in forests! Penguins squawking and ice breaking up! I could spend days exploring these sounds. It makes you feel like you're really taking a trip around the world!

Listen to some singing sand dunes

This video about unexplained sounds was really cool. It freaked my kids out, though! A couple of them had bad dreams about it!

I already referenced Trevor Cox's site on the Unit Schedule page, but it's so good I'll link to it again here. It has links to recordings of some of the "sonic wonders of the world" sites the author discovered (and other sounds, like birds). Just a fascinating collection of sounds! The recording of the lyrebird is one of my favorites! But comparing a balloon popping in different sites (like in an anechoic chamber vs. a mausoleum) is pretty cool too.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sound and language

Image from here
Here's an interesting article about different words for sounds in different languages

This explains why some words are so similar in all languages. I was first introduced to that idea when I read these lectures by Leonard Bernstein, and it was an amazing realization for me. I felt like my mind had opened to all these new concepts!

We also talked about onomatopoeia in, among other works, Edgar Allen Poe's "The Bells".

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sound Wave activities and resources

Goldie feeling vibrations (from music coming out of the speakers) pass through a balloon

Some sound wave resources: 

Video about a wave machine that makes the biggest (manmade) waves in the world

Animations that show how sound is a pressure wave. When you see the waves so often simplified visually into sine waves, it's easy to forget what kind of waves they really are!

This video explains harmonics and overtones, two things I have always struggled to understand. Maybe if I were a violinist I'd have gotten it earlier!

This virtual oscilloscope is really cool

This is amazing: scientists using standing waves to levitate objects (called acoustic levitation).

And here are some beautiful patterns made with resonance

This video shows the ever-popular trick of breaking a glass with sound. You can see the waves forming in the glass in some of our pictures here,

This lady does overtone singing—or in other words, singing two notes at once! It is eerie and beautiful and amazing. I can't believe she can do this!!

Here's a video about some high amplitude sound research going on at BYU

Here are some wave activities we did as part of our Water Unit

We also investigated interference effects and other wave properties of light (part of our Light Unit)
This site will tell you how to make a string telephone. Except it never works very well, in my experience.

These pictures show an activity did where we investigated the sound-absorbing properties of different materials. (Something like this.) We stuffed various materials into containers and then listened to which were the most "muffling."

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sound and Percussion Homeschool Unit and Lesson Plan

We did a unit on Light last year, so it seemed like we ought to do a unit on Sound too! I love our physics-related units, though every time they make me wish my dad were still alive so he could be our guest lecturer (and help explain everything to me!). Dad helped me do a science fair project when I was in elementary school where I got to use an oscilloscope from his office, and I loved it. I felt so important. :)

I considered, briefly, making this into a Music Unit as well, but I quickly realized that would be too much. Sound and Music are so entertwined, though, that it made sense to at least cover the percussion instruments, especially since those are so fundamentally about sound and vibration. I consider myself a percussionist too, even though my main instrument has always been the piano and that's what I majored in—because I played in the drumline and percussion section in high school, and I also played percussion with one of the university orchestras during my first year of college. I've always loved percussion ensembles! In all their forms. 

One book I read on my own to prepare for this unit was called The Sound Book, and I LOVED it. It's by an acoustic engineer—or maybe he's a physicist?—who went around the world seeking "sonic wonders of the world."  Here is an interesting article about it, and here is the author's website with links to recordings of some of these sites (and other sounds, like birds). It is an awesome site and I recommend it. The recording of the lyrebird is one of my favorites! But the comparisons of a balloon popping in different sites (like in an anechoic chamber vs. a mausoleum) are pretty cool too.

A documentary we watched and  really liked was called Note by Note, and showed the making of a Steinway 9-foot grand piano over the course of a year. Everything is done by hand, and there are so many interesting details! You can see how each piano has its own distinct sonic character.

We also really enjoyed Organworks, a documentary showing different pipe organs around the world and talking about how they were made, changes to the pipe organ over the years, etc. The host of the show was quite entertaining and it was just generally a lot more absorbing than you might think, reading the description. Although I admit we tend to like stuff like this anyway. :)

Some previous activities we've done in our homeschool that are music and sound-related are:

Making a glass armonica

Making rubber-band "lutes"

Making homemade drums and mallets

Listening to examples of birdsong in music

And here's my Pinterest Board for this Unit, with other links and ideas for activities.
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