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The Science and Art of Song

In collaboration with Dr. Harlow’s “Physics of Music” class, the Physics Department hosted the Cornell University Chorus in March 2019 for a public concert and informal physics event called the Science and Art of Song, facilitated by Dr. Sealfon.
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About the Event

What distinguishes music from noise? What is a musical note, and why do some notes sound harmonious together and other notes clash? What makes different vowels sound different, even when we sing them on the same note?

In the first half-hour of this event, guided by Dr. Carolyn Sealfon, we explored these questions with the Cornell Chorus. Together we observed patterns and tested possible explanations, uncovering simple yet powerful rules about notes, vibrations, and waves.

Then, we enjoyed an hour-long performance by the renowned Cornell University Chorus while visually displaying the vibrations and frequencies of the sound their combined voices create. Sit back and listen to the masterful artistry of their music, or recognize the patterns we uncovered in the notes they are singing.

In this time when in-person events are not possible, you may enjoy attending virtually via the recording:

Let's hope it will be safe to harmonize and explore physics together in person again soon!

By Carolyn Sealfon

The Physics of Music PHY207 will be offered online in summer 2020 and winter 2021.

The Science and Art of Song