Sound is the most basic element of music and we become aware of it when vibrating air waves reach our ears. Sound can be produced in the following ways:
1. Hitting objects together
2. Rubbing objects together
3. Plucking an object
4. Moving air through an object
5. Sending an altered electrical signal to a speaker
All musical instruments use one or more of those methods to produce vibrating air waves. Here are some examples of how instruments produce sound.
Hitting objects together: drums that use sticks, hand drums, marimba, xylophone, and piano
Rubbing objects together: bowed string instruments like violin, viola, cello, and bass
Plucking an object: the same string instruments listed above, as well as guitar, electric bass, ukelele, and harpsichord
Moving air through an object: any wind or brass instrument like flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, tuba, French horn, harmonica, kazoo
Sending an altered electrical signal to a speaker: synthesizers
There are three aspects of sound: pitch, dynamics, and tone color. Follow the links below to learn about each one.
Pitch: The highness or lowness of a sound.
Noteheads, Staves, Clefs, and the Grand Staff
Notes Above and Below the Staff with Ledger Lines
Interactive Piano Keyboard
Improve Your Skills -- Name the Pitch Games: Visit www.NameThePitch.com for interactive games that will test you and speed up your recognition of notes. The site also includes reference pages and exercises to improve sight-reading.
Dynamics: Loudness and softness in music.
Dynamic chart with definitions, abbreviations, and symbols.
Tone color: The characteristic that allows us to distinguish one sound or one instrument from another.
Interactive example of different tones.
Visit the practice page for exercises and assignments on the aspects of sound.