Why does the same note sound different depending on the musical instrument that produces it?

Stamp of a musical instrument

Middle School



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The student studies the sound spectrum emitted by different instruments and tries to analyze what constitutes the particular timbre of a musical instrument.

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Sample protocol for the student
1. Why does the same note sound different depending on the musical instrument?
2. You will need one or more musical instruments. If you don't have one available, use the sounds from the sound library in the Tools tab.
3. With the synthesizer in the Tools tab, create a constant sound with a frequency of 880 Hz.
4. Displays and records the Sound spectrum of this sound. The spectrum is used to calculate the frequency of the pure tones that make up a sound signal. What do you see? Is this sound a pure sound or a complex sound?
5. Play the note -la- on a flute, or use the flute sound from the library. Records the sound spectrum of this sound
6. What do you see? How many frequencies can you detect? Is this sound pure? Are these frequencies harmonics?
7. Analyze the spectrum of a guitar. How many harmonics do you detect? What are their frequencies?
8. Compare the spectrum of the guitar to that of a piano or oboe
9. Do you think that these harmonics give a different timbre to musical instruments? Write and document your answers in your field notebook.

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