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Sir James Jeans, noted British scientist, has given a physical analysis of musical sounds, in what is considered to be the best exposition on the subject, a book of great intellectual stature. His aim has been to convey precise information, in a simple non-technical way, that will be of interest to the amateur as well as the serious student of music. The discussion begins Sir James Jeans, noted British scientist, has given a physical analysis of musical sounds, in what is considered to be the best exposition on the subject, a book of great intellectual stature. His aim has been to convey precise information, in a simple non-technical way, that will be of interest to the amateur as well as the serious student of music. The discussion begins with an explanation of the development of the human faculty of hearing. It is established that each sound can be represented by a curve. An examination of the general properties of sound-curves follows. For example, why do some sounds produce pleasure when they reach our ears and some pain? How do we retain the pleasurable qualities in the sound-curve, as it passes on from one stage of electronic equipment to another? To what extent is it possible to prevent unpleasant qualities from contaminating the curve? These and other pertinent questions on the transmission and reproduction of sound-curves are answered in a discussion of tuning-forks and pure tones. The various methods of producing sound, and the qualities of the sounds produced, are further discussed as they relate to vibrations of strings and harmonics, and vibrations of air. Harmony and discord are also considered. In the final chapters on the concert room and hearing, the discussion focuses on the transmission of sound from its source to the eardrum and from the eardrum to the brain. A general theory of acoustics is also covered as well as acoustical analyses. "Science and Music is a rare book, as an author does not often combine very distinguished scientific abilities with musical knowledge and power of simple exposition. It will probably become a minor classic." — Manchester Guardian.


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Sir James Jeans, noted British scientist, has given a physical analysis of musical sounds, in what is considered to be the best exposition on the subject, a book of great intellectual stature. His aim has been to convey precise information, in a simple non-technical way, that will be of interest to the amateur as well as the serious student of music. The discussion begins Sir James Jeans, noted British scientist, has given a physical analysis of musical sounds, in what is considered to be the best exposition on the subject, a book of great intellectual stature. His aim has been to convey precise information, in a simple non-technical way, that will be of interest to the amateur as well as the serious student of music. The discussion begins with an explanation of the development of the human faculty of hearing. It is established that each sound can be represented by a curve. An examination of the general properties of sound-curves follows. For example, why do some sounds produce pleasure when they reach our ears and some pain? How do we retain the pleasurable qualities in the sound-curve, as it passes on from one stage of electronic equipment to another? To what extent is it possible to prevent unpleasant qualities from contaminating the curve? These and other pertinent questions on the transmission and reproduction of sound-curves are answered in a discussion of tuning-forks and pure tones. The various methods of producing sound, and the qualities of the sounds produced, are further discussed as they relate to vibrations of strings and harmonics, and vibrations of air. Harmony and discord are also considered. In the final chapters on the concert room and hearing, the discussion focuses on the transmission of sound from its source to the eardrum and from the eardrum to the brain. A general theory of acoustics is also covered as well as acoustical analyses. "Science and Music is a rare book, as an author does not often combine very distinguished scientific abilities with musical knowledge and power of simple exposition. It will probably become a minor classic." — Manchester Guardian.

30 review for Science and Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Glaucon

    A delightful read! I've never heard anyone speak about music the way that Sir James Hopwood Jeans does. As a layman in physics and mathematics, the most important thing I think I can take away from this is that sound is substance; sonorous air, as Daniel Barenboim once put it. What we hear are vibrations refracted through and on to objects affected by the physical characteristics of strings, hammers, bows, hands, and rooms. Every single tone has a specific wave pattern, and from there the countl A delightful read! I've never heard anyone speak about music the way that Sir James Hopwood Jeans does. As a layman in physics and mathematics, the most important thing I think I can take away from this is that sound is substance; sonorous air, as Daniel Barenboim once put it. What we hear are vibrations refracted through and on to objects affected by the physical characteristics of strings, hammers, bows, hands, and rooms. Every single tone has a specific wave pattern, and from there the countless timbres of the world determine how that tone is unique. Level Music: Alvin Lucier's Bird and Person Dyning; dyning as in heterodyning. This piece is special to me and reminds me of this book specifically because Lucier uses a space's dynamic during performances to transpose the different way the piece sounds throughout the room... So essentially, Lucier found a way to allow the audience to hear exactly what he is hearing. Wow!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    As a musician I was naturally drawn to the subject matter. Considering it having been written in the 1930s, it wasn't as much of a dinosaur as I expected. (Of course, music hasn't changed much since then in my opinion, barring popular music, that is.) I learned quite a bit about acoustical physics, some of which I was semi-familiar with from my undergraduate. One thing I like about this book is that subsequent readings will yield new discoveries. Because of this, I would consider it a "classic." As a musician I was naturally drawn to the subject matter. Considering it having been written in the 1930s, it wasn't as much of a dinosaur as I expected. (Of course, music hasn't changed much since then in my opinion, barring popular music, that is.) I learned quite a bit about acoustical physics, some of which I was semi-familiar with from my undergraduate. One thing I like about this book is that subsequent readings will yield new discoveries. Because of this, I would consider it a "classic." Mr. Jeans often made some rather bold claims that I could not always agree with, but it made me think a lot, and I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect. This book was accessible enough for me to hang on through the technical parts (barely, at times) and really ponder through the philosophical sections.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marawan Awad

    بما إني خريج كلية العلوم في الأساس و عازف جيتار و عود و أدرس الموسيقى توقعت أن يكون محتوى التاب هو تكير للمفاهيم الأساسية للموسيقى و علم الصوتيات و لن أجد ما هو جديد او غريب ... ولكن كان هناك إضافة حقيقية خاصة في الجانب الفسيولوجي لاستقبال الأدن البشرية للأصوات .... و بعض المعلومات عن الهاروموني و النسب الموسيقية ..... و معيارية الموسيقى و الآلات الموسيقية ... و بعض الجوانب السيكولوجية لاستقبال الموسيقى ... و منها أن من طبيعة الشعوب أو النفس البشرية أنها حين تستمع إلى سياق هارموني جديد تستغربه في بما إني خريج كلية العلوم في الأساس و عازف جيتار و عود و أدرس الموسيقى توقعت أن يكون محتوى التاب هو تكير للمفاهيم الأساسية للموسيقى و علم الصوتيات و لن أجد ما هو جديد او غريب ... ولكن كان هناك إضافة حقيقية خاصة في الجانب الفسيولوجي لاستقبال الأدن البشرية للأصوات .... و بعض المعلومات عن الهاروموني و النسب الموسيقية ..... و معيارية الموسيقى و الآلات الموسيقية ... و بعض الجوانب السيكولوجية لاستقبال الموسيقى ... و منها أن من طبيعة الشعوب أو النفس البشرية أنها حين تستمع إلى سياق هارموني جديد تستغربه في البداية و تتعامل معه بحساسية ... ثم تصل إلى مرحلة الانسجام و الاعتياد و الابتهاج من ها النوع من الهرموني ... إلى أن تتعاقب الاجيال عليه و تجد أنه انسجام تقليدي و ممل ! و لها تنبأ كاتب الكتاب أن الموسيقى دائما في تطور مستمر للأكثر تعقيدا بنفس النسب ... معلومة جديدة أيضا أن الأصوات الصادرة من الآلات النقرية أو النفخ أو الايقاعية ..... ليست وحدوية النوتة و انما يصدر من ال نوتة الواحدة مجموعة من الأصوات الهرمونية بشدة أقل من النوتة الاساسية و لدلك تسمى احيانا Chord instead of note ! هو كتاب أكاديمي نوعا ما و علمي أكثر من أنه تطبيقي ... ولكنه يجاوب على كثير من الأسئلة المفيدة للموسيقيين مثل العلاقة بين شدة الصوت و تردده !

  4. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    While reading this book, I kept thinking of a scene from The Dead Poets Society. I remember Robin Williams character instructing his students to rip out from their textbooks the essay by Dr. Pritchard on Understanding Poetry. Mr. Pritchard's analysis of poetry was cold and clinical, and missed out on the beauty of the words and the meaning they conveyed. This book on music, in one sense, is just like that essay. On another level, though, it is an accessible analysis of sound theory. For me, the While reading this book, I kept thinking of a scene from The Dead Poets Society. I remember Robin Williams character instructing his students to rip out from their textbooks the essay by Dr. Pritchard on Understanding Poetry. Mr. Pritchard's analysis of poetry was cold and clinical, and missed out on the beauty of the words and the meaning they conveyed. This book on music, in one sense, is just like that essay. On another level, though, it is an accessible analysis of sound theory. For me, the pairing of the two ruined the topic. An analysis of music theory on its own, without reference to the underlying physics, would be fun. A study of the theory of sound and its transmission would also be interesting. But putting them together and using the mathematics to explain the correctness or complexity of music didn't work for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Allyson

    Reading through this as part of my personal academic studies... This is perfect for me, incorporating my love of music with an area that I'm not so strong on: science. I want to expand my horizons, but trying to read about science in relation to topics I'm not interested in becomes a dreadful bore. This book has so far been a really enjoyable experience, I must say! Written for someone like myself, with a basic-understanding-but-not-much-else when it comes to science, this is easy to read and unde Reading through this as part of my personal academic studies... This is perfect for me, incorporating my love of music with an area that I'm not so strong on: science. I want to expand my horizons, but trying to read about science in relation to topics I'm not interested in becomes a dreadful bore. This book has so far been a really enjoyable experience, I must say! Written for someone like myself, with a basic-understanding-but-not-much-else when it comes to science, this is easy to read and understand without being so simple that its a waste of my time. Every musician should have one of these in their library; I'm just sorry that the copy I'm reading is only a library book that I have to soon return!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    This was a very informative text that covers every aspect of music from the production of sound to the perception of sound down to how the ear hears it and how the brain perceives it. I would definitely say that this book is worth a re-read, in that there is just so much information contained within that it is nearly impossible to grasp it all upon first pass. Jeans presents every mathematical equation that could possibly be related to acoustics in a very practical way. I regret not taking notes This was a very informative text that covers every aspect of music from the production of sound to the perception of sound down to how the ear hears it and how the brain perceives it. I would definitely say that this book is worth a re-read, in that there is just so much information contained within that it is nearly impossible to grasp it all upon first pass. Jeans presents every mathematical equation that could possibly be related to acoustics in a very practical way. I regret not taking notes while I was reading this. All in all this was a very densely packed and informative book that will most likely serve the reader better upon multiple readings.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Richard Palmer

    This is a fascinating and detailed look at all aspects of music production, transmission, and hearing. Jeans describes everything from vibrating stringed instruments and organ pipes and piano wires to the inner workings of the human ear. He does it in a straightforward way, from first principles, so that no prior knowledge would be required. There is a little bit of math, some graphs, and a huge number of tables of information. Quite a good reference book, and a bit dry at times, but very intere This is a fascinating and detailed look at all aspects of music production, transmission, and hearing. Jeans describes everything from vibrating stringed instruments and organ pipes and piano wires to the inner workings of the human ear. He does it in a straightforward way, from first principles, so that no prior knowledge would be required. There is a little bit of math, some graphs, and a huge number of tables of information. Quite a good reference book, and a bit dry at times, but very interesting.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This book is something that anyone with an interest in music should read. Though published in the '30s, everything written remains relevant and adds a dimension to the knowledge of music and its production - becoming conscientious about music, especially as an instrumentalist, not only becomes infinitely more complicated but also richer. This book is something that anyone with an interest in music should read. Though published in the '30s, everything written remains relevant and adds a dimension to the knowledge of music and its production - becoming conscientious about music, especially as an instrumentalist, not only becomes infinitely more complicated but also richer.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Annm

    There are so many more things I understand about my instrument, the violin, now that I did not understand before. Wonderful book!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Kemp

    I only read selected portions of this book - mainly the parts on the history and math behind the development of the modern diatonic scale. Good stuff!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nick Norton

  12. 5 out of 5

    Haley

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Lett

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alanslater

  15. 4 out of 5

    Domenic

  16. 4 out of 5

    Juan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barry Holt

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike Stanger

  19. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jens Rantil

  21. 4 out of 5

    Peter Macinnis

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joel Nisson

  24. 4 out of 5

    M. W.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Roland Walker

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cassio L Vieira

  28. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Farryn

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