Author: TheSoundBlog

  • Quietest day of the decade

    Around the world, tranquility is gradually disappearing as man-made sounds, especially noise from planes and cars, increasingly encroach on quiet places. There’s a lot of interest in tranquility at the moment from campaign groups, governments and researchers (e.g. [1]). The fear is that unless we identify tranquil places and try to preserve them, they will […]

  • Musical saws and harmonics

    In my last post on musical saw’s I wrote: “The tone of the saw is unlike conventional instruments, it’s very clear and pure. This happens because the instrument makes very few higher harmonics to add colour to the sound.” which prompted a comment: “I would say that on the saw the overtones are vivid and […]

  • The physics of musical saws

    Someone I know has just been given a musical saw as a Christmas present. A few years back, a colleague mentioned that musical saws are scientifically really interesting. So I’ve spent a little time this morning reading scientific papers with exciting titles such as “Vibration of an Elastic Strip with Varying Curvature” [1]. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kmft674XPC0&hl=en_GB&fs=1&] As […]

  • Navigating by chimes – Where the doors go Ping!

    On the Ning Nang Nong Where the Platforms go Bong! And the Escalators all say Boo! There’s a Nong Nang Ning Where the doors go Ping! And the lift doors Jibber Jabber Joo … * A few years back I was lucky enough to visit Japan. One of my lasting sound memories was the strange […]

  • Pyramids and chirps

    I’m starting to gather examples of curious acoustic effects – and the sound of the El Castillo pyramid in Mexico is a really good example. An article [1] on this has just appeared in an academic journal I help edit. Apparently, if you sit at the bottom of the steps you think you hear rain […]

  • Tone deafness

    At my saxophone lesson this weekend, my teacher asked me to sing what I was meant to be playing. It was pretty excrutiating and it took me a few attempts to hit the notes correctly. Fortunately, I’m not completely tone deaf, just a little out of practice. It’s estimated that tone deafness (congenital amusia) affects […]

  • Laughing Rats

    Heard a great radio programme which included the sound of laughing rats. Some scientists are claiming that if you tickle a rat it giggles. Before you rush to tickle a pet rat, it’s worth knowing that the sounds aren’t audible to humans. (Unless you have a bat detector or some other piece of specialist measurement […]

  • Fingernails and blackboards

    Why is the sound of fingernails dragging down a chalk board so horrible? This question just won’t go away. Ever since I ran an experiment into the worst sound in the World (www.sound101.org), a lack of a good answer has been bothering me. I’ve been doing some science shows for sixth formers in London recently, […]