Why is the sound of the vuvuzela so annoying

There are newspaper reports today that the  vuvuzelas might be banned because their drone is annoying viewers of the World Cup. Why is the noise so annoying? The trumpets are incredibly loud (there have been reports of concern about hearing damage).  Studies on noise annoyance show that louder sounds are more annoying. We are all… Continue reading Why is the sound of the vuvuzela so annoying

Igloo acoustics

Manchester has completely ground to a halt with heavy snowfall. Yesterday, my children and their friends built an impressive igloo from compacted snow bricks. I crawled into it this morning and was struck by the sound of my voice inside. Normally in a small room your voice gets enhanced by the sound bouncing around the… Continue reading Igloo acoustics

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… Continue reading Musical saws and harmonics

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… Continue reading The physics of musical saws

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… Continue reading Navigating by chimes – Where the doors go Ping!

Why pantomime dames don’t sound feminine

It’s the festive season, and time for British middle aged men to dress in drag and become pantomime dames. But they don’t sound much like women. This is something that’s also true of male comedians impersonating women on TV – Monty Python and Les Dawson spring to mind. The difference between male and female voices… Continue reading Why pantomime dames don’t sound feminine

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. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myuceywaOUs&hl=en_GB&fs=1&] 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… Continue reading Laughing Rats