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Sound Wave

Math Content:

Frequently sound is described using terms such as pitch, tone, frequency, intensity or loudness. To understand the origins of these terms as well as to understand the mathematical models used to represent sound, this applet can help you to explore the dynamics of a sound wave.

The sound wave is controlled by two parameters: the amount of initial energy put into the string (initial displacement) and the amount of tension in the string. Use the sliders to adjust these parameters.

 The Hear button will allow you to hear the sound for the current settings.
 The See button will animate the sound wave. The animation of the string has been slowed down so that the motion of the wave can be observed clearly.

Use the applet to simulate various sounds.

  • How do the sliders affect the sound?
  • What effect do the changes in the sound have on the animation of the string and its particles? How do these observations correspond to the observations about the sound that you hear?
  • Click on a single particle—its color will change to red. What is the motion of this particle?
  • Click on a second particle. How does the movement of this particle compare to the first particle?
  • Click and drag vertically on a column of particles. You may want to do this on more than one column. What do you observe about the behavior of the column of points?