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This summer the students involved in research in the Physics Department all participated in research projects in musical acoustics. Three different groups worked in the areas of vibration analysis and input impedance structure.
The effects of bell vibrations on the sound of brass musical instruments is a matter of argument in both the music and scientific communities. Amy (class of 2004), Elliot (class of 2003) and Jeremy (class of 2002) worked on determining the effects of bell vibrations on the sound that a trumpet makes. This involved redesigning the artificial lips to play the trumpet consistently for very long periods of time, as well as the construction of a small anechoic chamber along with the associated equipment and computer interfaces. Jeremy is a music major while Amy and Elliot are physics majors. The diverse backgrounds and knowledge significantly enhanced the research experience for everyone involved.
Kristy (class of 2003) and Brad (class of 2004) worked on developing a method for performing real-time measurements of acoustic impedance. Helping Brad and Kristy was Frank McDonald, a physics teacher from Winter Park High School. Together they designed and built a device that can help to understand the resonant structure of any musical instrument. In addition to the applications to musical instruments. Kristy and Brad are beginning work on using this technology to study the human oral cavity in hopes that they can gain some new insight into the sound of the human voice.
Jody (class of 2002) and Amy (class of 2004) worked on extending some of the work performed last year into a new area of brass instrument research. Not only did their work on trombones uncover new information about how these instruments actually make the sound they do, but their work indicated to what extent the family of brass instruments can be treated as similar. For instance, they have compared their vibrational analysis of trombone bells to some of Jody's previous work on trumpet bells and have been able to make some very important discoveries about the family of brass instruments.