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Project Idea
thumbnail Do you love to make music, but do not have access to all the instruments you would love to play? Check out this fun science fair project about the physics of musical sound production. You will make musical instruments with drinking straws, one for each note on a one-octave major scale. Can you figure out the right lengths for a series of straw "oboes" in order to play a musical scale? Read more
Music_p016
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites You must have an understanding of waves or a willingness to learn about them in order to do this science fair project. Familiarity with a musical instrument and playing a reed instrument is helpful, but not required.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
Music has many mathematical elements in it: rhythm, pitch, scale, frequency, interval, and ratio. There are many ways to turn these elements into a science fair project. You can investigate how the scale is based upon a special type of number sequence called a Harmonic Series. Another scale used by Bach, called the "Well-Tempered-Scale" or the "Equal-Tempered-Scale", is based upon a series. How are these mathematical series and ratios related to notes, chords, intervals, and octaves? You can… Read more
Math_p034
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Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Project Idea
thumbnail This is a rockin' project for guitarists with an interest in the physics behind the music. Have you ever wondered why the pitch of the note changes when you fret the string? You can find out for yourself with this project on the fundamental physics of stringed instruments. Read more
Music_p010
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites To do this project, you will need a guitar (or other stringed instrument). You'll need to know enough about playing the instrument to produce clear, ringing tones by picking (or plucking) the string while changing its effective length by fretting (or fingering) it.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
This is a musical project about the resonance of closed-end air columns. Organ pipes, flutes, and brass instruments are examples of musical instruments of this type. In this project, you'll learn how the pitch of the note produced depends on the length of the column. All you need are some bottles, water, a ruler, and a chromatic tuner. Read more
Music_p007
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail In this project, you'll investigate the physics of standing waves on guitar strings. You'll learn about the different modes (i.e., patterns) of vibration that can be produced on a string, and you'll figure out how to produce the various modes by lightly touching the string at just the right place while you pick the string. This technique is called playing harmonics on the string. By the way, we chose a guitar for this project, but you can do the experiments using any stringed instrument, with… Read more
Music_p009
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites To do this project, you'll need a guitar (or other stringed instrument). You'll need to know enough about playing the instrument to produce clear harmonics by picking (or plucking) the string while lightly touching it in just the right place.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
thumbnail This is a great project for a musician who is interested in the physics of stringed instruments. If you've every played an acoustic guitar, you may have noticed that picking a single string can make one or more of the other (unpicked) strings vibrate. When this happens, it's called sympathetic vibration. What intervals lead to the strongest sympathetic vibrations? Find out for yourself with this project. Read more
Music_p011
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites To do this project, you will need a properly tuned acoustic guitar (or other acoustic stringed instrument). You'll need to know enough about playing the instrument to produce clear, ringing tones by picking (or plucking) the string while changing its effective length by fretting (or fingering) it.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
Here's an interesting project idea with a variation that combines computer science, physics and music. You'll need a piano in a quiet room, a microphone and a computer with digital sound recording and analysis software. The project shows you how you can make a piano string start vibrating without hitting its key. You can record the sounds on the computer, and use sound analysis software to measure the frequencies of the induced vibrations. For more details see: How to Make a Piano Sing. Be… Read more
CompSci_p026
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Project Idea
thumbnail The renowned pianist Vladimir Horowitz once said, "The most important thing is to transform the piano from a percussive instrument into a singing instrument." Check out this project to learn about sympathetic vibrations, one way to make piano strings sing. Read more
Music_p012
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Time Required Very Short (≤ 1 day)
Prerequisites To do this project, you'll need a piano which is in tune. You'll also need to know enough about the piano to find notes by their letter names.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Very Low (under $20)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
Learning to play an instrument can be a lot of fun, especially when you can pretend to be a rock star as you learn! In this science fair project, you will study how your score in a music video game changes as you play and practice. You'll need a video game where you use a controller shaped like a musical instrument. Two examples include Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but there may be more! In these games, playing requires nothing more than a sense of the music's beat, and ridiculously fast fingers,… Read more
Games_p020
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Time Required Long (2-4 weeks)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability You'll need access to a video game system on which you can play a music based video game.
Cost Average ($50 - $100)
Safety No issues
Project Idea
For centuries, beautiful bell towers, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, have been the center of village life, announcing the time of day, the joy of weddings, and the sorrow of funerals. They were also used to call villagers to action in times of danger. Have you ever wondered, though, why people put the bells in towers? The bells are so heavy, why haul them all the way up to the top of tall towers? Why not just ring them on the ground? Putting bells up high does make for a dramatic visual… Read more
Music_p019
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Time Required Short (2-5 days)
Prerequisites Access to a multi-level home or building with windows on the ground and upper floors, and without external sources of noise, like traffic.
Material Availability Readily available
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety You should never lean out of a window and should have an adult with you if you need to try this science fair project away from home. Adult supervision is recommended.
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