How We Hear And Produce Sound
Every Sound is a Vibration Made of Waves Oscillating at a Particular Frequency.
How Sound Is Produced
A simple description of sound: Sound is a feeling or sensation that we hear. According to www.yale.ed:
Sound waves are formed when a vibrating object causes the surrounding medium to vibrate. A medium is a material (solid, liquid or gas) which a wave travels through. As sound waves move through a medium the particles vibrate forwards and backward. A sound's volume, how loud or soft it is, depends on the sound wave. The more energy put into making a sound or a sound wave, the louder the volume will be. The father a sound wave travels, the more it spreads, this makes it more difficult for us to hear a sound. So the nearer you are to a sound the louder it sounds to us. A sound wave enters the ear and is changed into nerve signals, which are interpreted by the brain.
Sounds are a powerful energy which belongs strictly to the sound source. The sound is a vibration or series of vibrations set into motion by an object. To help you understand how that works, let's examine how a singer produces sound:
A singer prepares to sing by first inhaling the right amount of air depending on the length of the phrase (more air for a longer one, less for a shorter phrase.) Upon inhalation, the air strikes the vocal bands (the object) and sets them into motion (vibrations) which then produce sound. This is the same process for speaking.
When we shout or speak louder, more air is needed. If we fail to take in enough air when we shout or increase the volume, we end up with a sore throat or laryngitis. This is a common flaw of many singers. They want to sing louder (project), or higher, and they try to do so without taking in more air. They end up with a dry throat, hoarseness, and at times even develop vocal nodules.
The Sounds of Life
Sound is a part of our everyday lives yet we rarely if ever stop to think about why and how we sound the way we do.
We hear a baby cry, children laughing, the sound of a piano. We listen as someone prays or the scream of a fire engine on its way to save a life. An endless array of sound is going on all the time, with every heartbeat and each breath we take.
We almost become immune to the sounds of a humming car engine, the running of a refrigerator, the chopping of a salad, and the constant swallow of our own saliva. Footsteps go unheard and the sounds of chewing something tasty takes a background to the delicious taste itself.
We produce sound by speaking, singing, yelling, screaming, crying, laughing, moaning and whispering. And we become so busy and pre-occupied we rarely hear these sounds. I wonder if we realize how grateful we should be for being able to make a sound in the first place. When I thank my Maker for my blessings am I guilty of forgetting to include how grateful I am to be able to speak, sing and hear?
Fascinating Facts About Sound
- Sound travels at 330 meters per second or 740 miles per hour
- Sound waves are longitudinal waves with two parts: compression and rarefaction. Compression is the part of the sound waves where the molecules of air are pushed (compressed) together. Rarefaction is the part of the waves where the molecules are far away from each other. Sound waves are a sequence of compressions and rarefaction.
- The highest key on a piano vibrates 4,000 times per second.
- When someone sings with a greater amplitude compared to a smaller amplitude, they are singing louder compared to singing quieter. Amplitude is the size of the vibration in a sound wave that affects how loud we sing. Larger vibrations make a louder sound.
- If you hear thunder 20 seconds after you see a flash of lightning, then the lightning occurred 4 miles away.
- The speed of sound is around 767 miles per hour (1,230 kilometers per hour).
- Fast vibrations make a high sound, and slow vibrations make a low sound.
- Whales in the ocean sing to each other. The sound of their song can travel a distance of 800km.
Quiet The Mind With Deep Breathing
Sounds impact us in many different ways. Screaming, grating and machine-like noises interrupt a serene and peaceful feeling. Discordant sounds have even been known to cause illness. At the same time, sound can have a healing effect on us. A soft lullaby will quiet a crying baby.
The sound of "aaah" during morning meditation, helps to calm the inner dialogue going on in our mind. This dialogue goes on and on. We try to find sleep at night, but our minds just won't shut off. When we accompany the aaah sound with deep breathing, we enter into a state of complete relaxation.
Learning how to breathe by using the diaphragmatic muscle( the diaphragm ) is a must. Otherwise, you are only breathing by using a small part of the lung area. I urge you to take some time and really practice this technique. After all...we are talking about breathing.
How We Hear Sound
Thoughts Are Increased Vibrations
Every sound is a vibration made of waves oscillating at a particular frequency. During singing, vibrato is produced by the number of oscillations occurring on a sustained tone. If you line up 5 or 6 glasses, filling them to different heights with water, you will have different tones from each glass.
Now the human ear has a frequency of about sixteen thousand vibrations, going up to approximately forty thousand vibrations, per second. Then, as you go higher up the scale at about one thousand million vibrations per second, you discover electricity. I can't begin to wrap my mind around this.
At two hundred million vibrations per second, we find heat. And wait until you hear this. Light and color appear at five hundred billion vibrations per second. Your friendly x-ray manifests itself at two trillion vibrations per second.
And what about thoughts? Thoughts and spiritual dimensions are in the realm of increased vibrations beyond anything that is even calculable.
Vibrational frequencies are clearly the very nature of our material universe. Fascinating!
Important points to remember:
- Sound is going on all the time.
- Sound is a vibration or series of vibrations.
- Sounds impact us in a variety of ways.
- Learn how to quiet the mind with deep (diaphragmatic) breathing.
- Every sound is a vibration made of waves oscillating at a particular frequency.
- Thoughts and spiritual dimension are in the realm of increased vibrations beyond anything that is even calculable.
- Vibrational frequencies are clearly the very nature of our material universe.
- Sound vibrations travel in a wave pattern, and we call these vibrations sound waves.
- The speed of sound depends on the density of the medium through which it is traveling.
- Our ears are capable of hearing only those sound waves which lie in the range between 20 and 20,000 vibrations per second.
Learning how sound is produced can be extensive and complicated. I've tried to keep the process somewhat simplified. What an amazing adventure we take when we discover the wonder of sound.
I hope you now have a better understanding about we hear and produce sound.
Sound is ephemeral, fleeting, but some sort of a physical manifestation can help you hold on to it longer in time. I'm sure of this; I've always thought the sound that you make is just the tip of the iceberg, like the person that you see physically, is just the tip of the iceberg as well.
Yo -Yo Ma
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© 2011 Audrey Hunt