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Physics and Music

  1. Aug 25, 2014 #1

    New to this forum..

    ..and physics

    I am currently a seasoned undergrad who only recently decided to study physics. The choice was more out of a growingly passionate curiosity of the subject than of desired career field. While I have been rather indecisive in my choosing of a major, I have for a while felt certain that I'm making the right choice.
    Before I landed on physics I was dead set on a career in audio production and engineering. However money and school location were issues and I was unable to pursue it.

    Lately I have been entertaining the thought of a combination-of-sorts of both fields. My current university offers a minor in audio production and I have decided to start taking the required classes. The only thing dampening my confidence is what I could do with such a degree. What are current issues for physicists working with acoustics? What are some theoretical career paths I could take? How could I use my knowledge of physics and audio engineering to improve how the world perceives sound?

    In short: How can I combine my love for physics and music?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 25, 2014 #2


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    Are you confusing music with acoustics with physics with audio production? Music is something too different from the other three. PHYSICS will help you with acoustics, and depending on courses and electives you choose, also audio production.

    If you could study acoustics, then maybe you can get a handle on how to study woods and strings. In this way at least, acoustics and music might be thought as related.
  4. Aug 25, 2014 #3
    Hi youenjoymyself!

    I'm both a physics enthusiast and an electronic music enthusiast (music here). Not really a master of either trade though :frown:

    I guess the obvious thing to say is that a physics degree prepares you for many careers, whereas audio production only prepares you for one.

    Actually I would think that a physics degree might well serve you better for many audio-related jobs - for instance if you're working on the latest VST softsynth or plugin, a deep understanding of Fourier transforms, oscillations etc etc is priceless.
  5. Aug 30, 2014 #4
    Some composers such as Iancu Dumitrescu and Joel Francois Durand compose by analyzing the harmonics present within instruments. Knowing Fourier transforms would be helpful in such a case. Iannis Xenakis also composed using ideas from physics - there is a piece he wrote that was written by modeling each instrument as a molecule and following some distribution. You'll need to know quite a bit of music theory as well if you want to compose music, though.

    You could just pursue physics as an interest and not worry about its usefulness with regards to your main career interests. I'd imagine there are possibilities in materials, acoustics, etc.
  6. Sep 2, 2014 #5

    Andy Resnick

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    Off the top of my head, here's a few:

    Audio engineer: designing spaces and speaker placement to optimize the listening experience (which may be different for a concert hall or conference room, for example)

    Quality control/calibration services for instrument makers and repair services.

    Use of audio in advertising contexts (wave field synthesis, sound localization)

    Applications of infrasound/ultrasound
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