ME 379M:

Acoustics for Musicians and Recording Engineers


That Doesn't Sound Right 101

unique number:    17135
meeting time: 9a-10a MWF
classroom: RLM 6.116

instructor:     J. Anderson Mills III
office: ENS 630
office hours: 10-11a TWF, others by appointment
office phone: 512.232.2449
home phone: 512.380.0538
email address:
ME379M is housed under "courses" and "course resources."

  • The Science of Sound 2nd edition by Thomas D. Rossing, Addison-Wesley 1990
  • other handouts throughout the semester
course objectives:
  • Anyone taking this course should gather a general knowledge of acoustics and how rooms, reproduction and recording equipment, psychological effects, and instrument design affect the listening experience.
  • Musicians should leave with a better understanding of how musical instruments generate sound and interact with the room in which they are played. This understanding is intended to give musicians an appreciation for what the listener will hear either live or recorded.
  • Recordists should gain general ideas about transducers, especially microphones and loudspeakers, and how they might be arranged to match a desired frequency and amplitude response.
prerequisites: You will be expected to be able to learn simple trigonometry.

Tentative Grading Scheme:

quizzes:     36%, 48%, or 60%
final exam: 24%, 12%, or 0%
homework: 20%
field trips: 10%
class participation: 10%

Students with an A or B average may choose to exempt the final exam. If the final exam grade is higher than the lowest quiz grade for the any student taking the final exam, the final exam grade will replace the lowest quiz grade.

A final project is due in this class. It will be graded on a scale of -1 to 3. The final project grade will be added to the class average.

quiz dates:     21sep01, 12oct01, 02nov01, 30nov01
project due dates: 03-05dec01
final exam date: 17dec01, 9a-12n
field trips: weeks of 24-28sep01, 15-19oct01, and 12-16nov01
important dates: labor day 03sep01, thanksgiving holidays 22-24nov01, last class day 07dec01


attendance: Attendance at every meeting of the class is expected. Grades will not be directly affected by lack of attendance, but I predict that grades will correspond well with attendance. Class participation counts for part of the final grade of the class. There is always the chance of a "pop" quiz (counts as part of the homework grade), and "magic numbers" may also be distributed.
in-class conduct: All students in the class are expected to behave in a manner conducive to learning.
extra credit: There will be ample extra credit work for those students who feel that they need to give more attention to the material and/or their grade in the class.
late homework: Late homework will be accepted with a 10% penalty each day that it is late. However, late homework cannot be turned in once the graded assignment has been returned to the class.
re-grading: Simple arithemtic errors (by the instructor) will gladly be corrected immediately following the class period when the tests are handed back. A disagreement with the grading of a particular test question requires a written request for re-grading.
tutoring: Hopefully all tutoring needs can be handled during office hours. If that is not the case, then accommodations will be made.
group effort: Group effort is encouraged on most homework problems. If this is not the case, then it will be stated explicitly with the homework assignment. All quizzes will test the ability of the individual.
field trips: Three field trips will be made during the semester to locations around town. If you are not able to attend any of these, then you must present a final project to the class.

      U. T.'s:
attendance: Regular attendance at all meetings of the classes for which a student is registered is expected, and implementation of this policy is the responsibility of instructors. Instructors should inform their students of any special attendance requirements.
discrimination: To the extent provided by applicable law, no person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under, any program or activity sponsored or conducted by The University of Texas System or any of its component institutions on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability.
add/drop courses: Procedures for adding and dropping courses are given in the Course Schedule. Each student is responsible for properly initiating and completing adds and drops.
sexual harassment: It is the policy of the University of Texas at Austin to maintain an educational environment free from sexual harassment and intimidation. Sexual harassment is expressly prohibited and offenders are subject to disciplinary action.
scholastic dishonesty: Students who violate University rules on scholastic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and/or dismissal from the University.
students with disabilities: The University of Texas at Austin provides, upon request, appropriate academic adjustments for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4241 TDD, or the College of Engineering Director of Students with Disabilities, 471-4321.

Tentative Course Outline:

Chapter     Topic
1. Motion, Force, and Energy
2. Vibrating Systems
3. Waves
4. Resonance
5. Hearing
6. Sound Pressure, Power, and Loudness
7. Pitch and Timbre
8. Combination Tones and Harmony
10. String Instruments
11. Brass Instruments
12. Woodwind Instruments
13. Percussion Instruments
14. Keyboard Instruments
15. Speech Production
18. A Little about Electricity
20. Microphones and Loudspeakers
21. The Recording and Reproduction of Sound
23. Auditorium Acoustics
24. Electronic Reinforcement of Sound
30. Environmental Noise
31. The Effects of Noise on People
This page last updated on 2007-04-01.