The Physics of Music


Science and music go hand in hand! To put it simply, music is made up of sounds that are created through physics. It's time to take a deeper look into how the two are related!


Your task is to research the relationship of physics and music and design a magazine article about your newly acquired knowledge. The magazine article should be engaging and descriptive, proving your knowledge of the material! 

Take notes on at least 2 of the sources provided in the process section- these will be turned in with your project.

Some topics to cover:

What are sound waves? How are they created? Which types of waves produce sounds we know as music?

  1. Watch the physics of music video: use it to answer the following questions...

    1. What are standing waves?

    2. What is reflection and interference? 

    3. What are nodes and antinodes?

    4. What are overtones? Describe how they work

    5. According to the video, why does a C on a flute sound so different from a bassoon?

  2. Read this source: 

    1. This source has a ton of good info - take notes and answer the following questions!

    2. How can we "see" sound using computers?

    3. What is a pure tone?

    4. find the diagrams of Oscilloscope traces for various instruments. Compare and contrast the waves of different instruments 

    5. What are harmonics and fundamentals? 

    6. What are interfering waves?

    7. Fill in the blanks: Frequency is to _______ as color is to _____

    8. According to the "just intonation" section, an interval is ____________

    9. What makes consonance and what makes dissonance? 

  3. Watch this video: 


    1.  What is the definition of frequency?

    2. What is the definition of hertz?3. Describe the doppler effect

    3. What makes A 440 a good tuning note?

    4. After watching this video, what is the relationship between frequency and musical notes?


Students will be evaluated based on their notes and magazine articles. Notes should be taken on at least 2 sources provided in this webquest and must answer any accompanying questions. It is encouraged to take notes beyond that and find other trustworthy sources! Outside sources must be approved by the teacher. 


The magazine article must be at least 250 words- it should take up at least half of an imaginary magazine. It can be made with any format so long as it looks like something that would be found in a magazine. The article should be engaging and eye catching. Students will be graded on proper grammar and spelling on the articles. An optional rough draft may be turned in before the due date with corrections for the final version. 






Understanding of material

Student shows knowledge of material by re-explaining in magazine; anyone could read the magazine article and learn the concept. The magazine should be easy to understand and if there are any unfamiliar terms, they are explained.

Student understands the material but doesn’t explain everything thoroughly enough; someone reading may not fully grasp concepts.

Student cannot prove understanding through the magazine article; if one were to read the article they would not learn the material.

Organization/ Sentence structure

Ideas are organized and flow well from one to another. There is a logical order for topics

There is some organization to ideas but it reads a little choppy.

There is a lack of organization- ideas do not flow well


Student has taken detailed notes on at least 2 sources and answered questions associated with them

Student has taken notes and answered the questions but they were not very detailed


Student did not take notes or didn’t answer most questions.


Meets or exceeds 250 words

Does not meet 250 words but has a least 150

Does not meet 150 words. There is not enough evidence of knowledge in such few sentences.


Student uses excellent grammar and has no spelling errors

Student has a few mistakes in grammar/spelling

Student has many mistakes in spelling and grammar.



Hopefully today's project has broaden your horizons about music and its connections to the outside world. Stay tuned for more physics during band!

Teacher Page

This webquest can be used a launching point to use science to talk about intonatoin. Once students understand frequencies, wavelengths, etc, you can use apps like tonal energy to show them the frequencies of their playing and give a visual of how tuning works.