physics of musical instrumentsintroduction
Dr. Brian Blood

home :: resources :: music theory & history :: recorder lessons :: music dictionary :: physics of musical instruments :: e-monographs what you think of our site?

topics on this page :: introduction and contents page for our physics of musical instrument resourcesite map :: quick search

Important: To see and hear our 'live' music examples you will need to install the free Scorch plug-in for PC and MAC systems.

I hold it equally impossible to know the parts without knowing the whole and to know the whole without knowing the parts in detail
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French mathematician, physicist and philosopher

If you would like to support our work writing and maintaining the teaching resources on this site please click on the donate button and follow the online instructions - thank you for your contribution.


  1. a brief history of the physics of sound - completed
  2. an introduction to vibrations - completed
  3. combining vibrations - in progress
  4. sound waves
  5. how sound is produced
  6. cylindrical versus conical bores
  7. tone holes
  8. the role of the thumbhole
  9. 'over-blowing' and harmonics on the recorder
  10. recorder tuning
  11. the role of the player
  12. overtones and 'timbre'
  13. turbulence and sound quality
  14. the properties of materials and their influence on 'timbre'
  15. can physics make better instruments?
  16. hearing and listening
  17. Dictionary of Physics - available
  18. Acoustics - An Unofficial Introduction - currently unavailable

The contents list above sets out the topics we plan to cover in this new Dolmetsch Online resource. These pages include work-in-progress projects which means that some pages will be incomplete. This will make it easier for us to include comments from our readers and to make modifications where they are thought necessary.

So that you know where we are, the sections have been 'flagged' in three ways:

  • completed means we are no longer making major changes to the page
  • in progress means we are actively adding material to the pages
  • if there is no comment beside the entry the page has not been constructed
  • available means this link takes you to another site

    As a major resource (extending beyond the recorder to include other musical instruments and devices using sound in other areas, for example, ultrasound) it will include popular, college, degree and advanced material arranged to make it useful to as wide a range of readers as possible. We will include links to related sites, include a series on 'table-top' experiments you can do at home, a series of 'live on-screen' projects using 'java' technology. We hope our readers will tell us of areas they would like included.

    Where they do not fit easily into the general text, support pages will be written to make the more advanced material accessible. It is not our aim to make the subject easy by leaving out the maths but we will supplement the maths with 'physical' insight so that even the non-math trained layman can follow what is going on.

    Readers who would like to make comments about improvements, correction of error, clarification, possible extensions, other links, or whatever are invited to drop us a line.