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Propagation of Sound
Eduardo Motta
Introduction To Music Production

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Hi, I am Eduardo Motta from Antigua, in Guatemala, a small
country in Central America. Im an electrical engineer and
studying music production has always been my passion. This
lesson is for week 1 of Introduction To Music Production at
Coursera.org. I will be teaching about the propagation of sound

Propagation of Sound
Sound is a sequence of waves of pressure which propagates
through compressible media such as air or water. (Sound can
propagate through solids as well). During their propagation,
waves can be reflected, refracted, or attentuated by the
medium.
Sound propagates through air as a longitudinal wave. The
speed of sound is determined by the properties of the air, and
not by the frequency or amplitude of the sound.

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Sound waves, as well as most other types of waves, can be
described in terms of the following basic wave phenomena.

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All media have three properties which affect the behavior of
sound propagation:
n

1. A relationship between density and pressure. This


relationship, affected by temperature, determines the speed
of sound within the medium.

2. The motion of the medium itself, e.g., wind. Independent of


the motion of sound through the medium, if the medium is
moving, the sound is further transported.

3. The viscosity of the medium. This determines the rate at


which sound is attenuated. For many media, such as air or
water, attenuation due to viscosity is negligible.

Speed of sound in air


As we just learned, sound can move through different mediums,
but the definetly most common one will be air. The speed of
sound in air is given approximately by:

where TC is the celsius temperature. Sound generally travels at


340 meters per second. This is not precise and it relys on a
variety of factors, but it is useful to know, because a lot of what
we do with sound effects, like delay, reverb, phasers and
flangers, they're actually all related to this idea of propagation.

A sense of space
It does take time for sound to get from one place to another and
our brain is amazingly capable at determining those fine
differences in arrival time. If you have sound coming from the
right hand side, hits your right ear before the left, we can
actually detect that. And that's one of the main ways that we
actually determine if something is coming from the right
instead of the left. So manipulation of a slight delay is really a
manipulation of our sense of propagation, or sounds moving
through the air.

+ If I'm trying to give the sense of a space that's all based on

manipulating this idea of propagation. Because as I talk in a


room, the sound of my voice bounces off all the surfaces. It
takes time for this sound to get from my mouth, to the surface,
and then back or to someone else.
All the different surfaces are reflecting differently. So our idea
and our, our sense of space is actually based on this idea of
propagation and reflection. The sound reflecting off objects
and taking the time to get there in a different amount of time
from all those different surfaces.
So much of what we do in a mix is based on creating a sense of
space and a depth and a real location. And all of those
parameters are based on this idea of propagation.

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Thank you!
I hope you liked it, and expect to hear your feedback. Thank
you for reading and critiquing.