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Rock & Roll and the Science of Sound

Rock and roll might be rebellious—but it still follows the laws of science!

We may think of music as an art form, but every note we hear can be understood in relation to scientific principles. The field of acoustics helps us to explain how sounds are generated, how they are transmitted, and how they are perceived. And the more you know about how sound works, the better you can better understand how musicians manipulate it!

“Rock and Roll and the Science of Sound” examines the basic acoustic principles through examples from music by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees. Students learn how sounds are created by vibrations, how they travel to our ears through moving air molecules, and how they can be represented in graphs. We introduce the concepts of frequency, amplitude, and waveforms, and teach how these directly impact music by way of pitch and timbre.

Related content areas: Language arts, social studies, fine arts / music
Level: grades 5-8
Days offered: Tuesday–Friday (October to June)
Times offered: 10:00am or 11:30am
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: Up to 150 students per session
Available supplemental materials: See below!

Register for This Class

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The program is FREE for schools within zip codes that begin with 440, 441, 442, or 443. Regional groups can participate in Rockin’ the Schools for a discounted rate.

Questions? E-mail us at [email protected].

Experiment: The Singing Cup

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This simple experiment will help your students to explore how guitar strings produce sounds that we can hear. Download the PowerPoint slide deck below!

Singing Cup Experiment Slide Deck

3.09 MB

Click this link to download the PowerPoint slides demonstrating this experiment.

Experiment: Sonic Tubes

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This experiment will help students to explore how sound travels—and how our perception of where sounds are coming from influences the way we hear recorded music. Download the PowerPoint slide deck below!

Sonic Tubes Experiment Slide Deck

3.8 MB

Click this link to download the PowerPoint slides demonstrating this experiment.


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This glossary (download as a PDF below) covers terms used in this class and in the supplemental materials found here. Terms defined:

Acoustics, Amplitude, Aural, Delay, Echo, Frequency, Inner Ear, Middle Ear, Music, Noise, Outer Ear, Pitch, Sound, Timbre, Volume, Waveform

Inductee Biographies

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Read more about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees covered in this class!