This 6-week course is for students who are interested in learning the basic concepts of sound & acoustics and signals & electronics as they relate to music. The goal is for students to understand the basic concepts and principles of musical acoustics and electronics and to learn how equipment such as electric guitars, amplifiers, and loudspeakers are designed and operate. Students are encouraged to put the theory into practice by building a simple guitar practice amplifier. The course employs high-school level algebra and trigonometry, no calculus is required.
Course Syllabus Week 1
Lesson 1: Introduction to oscillations and sound waves, simple oscillating systems, sound pressure, sound waves, the speed of sound, wavelength, frequency and pitch, sound pressure level, loudness, making sound, properties of musical sound versus “noise”
Lesson 2: Electronics fundamentals – charge, current, voltage, power, resistance, Ohm’s law, DC circuits, finding currents and voltages in simple circuits
Lesson 1: Reflection and absorption of sound, resonances in air columns, resonances in enclosures and rooms, diffraction and diffusion of sound, reverberation, principles of designing a good music studio
Lesson 2: AC signals, phase and complex numbers, capacitors, inductors, transformers, impedance, AC circuits and AC circuit analysis, simple filters (high-pass, low-pass, band-pass)
Lesson 1: Transistors, vacuum tubes, opamps, amplification, power gain, single-stage amplifiers
Lesson 2: Converting sound to electrical signals –microphones and guitar pickups, converting electrical signals to sound – loudspeakers
Lesson 1: Electric guitar electronics, pickup design, pickup placement and tone, volume control circuits, tone control circuits
Lesson 2: Overview of a simple guitar amplifier, power supply, volume control, preamp, tone control, power amp section
Lesson 1: Designing speaker enclosures, basic principles, interaction of speaker driver with the cabinet, why a cabinet at all?
Lesson 2: Speaker designs for home stereo, crossover networks, guitar amplifier (open) speaker enclosures, bass amplifier (closed and vented) speaker enclosures
Lesson 1: Building the guitar amplifier, how to solder, getting the amp to work – systematic testing and troubleshooting
Lesson 2: Visualizing sound waves, frequency content and tone, signal modification in electro-acoustic systems, tube amplifiers and distortion, wah pedal, talk box