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Science and Music (Dover Books on Music) Paperback – June 1, 1968

ISBN-13: 978-0486619644 ISBN-10: 0486619648 Edition: New edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Music
  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (June 1, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486619648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486619644
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #450,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

This book sets out all that is relevant in the science of acoustics to the art of music. He offers a simple but precise account (illustrated with well-chosen photographs and diagrams) of the anatomical origin and workings of the human ear; the nature of sound vibrations; and the practical problems of acoustical design. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sir James Jeans: Science Made Simple
Sir James Jeans (1877–1946), English physicist, astronomer, and mathematician, made substantial contributions to many areas of science including quantum theory, the theory of radiation, and stellar evolution, but is most remembered today for several elegantly written books on science and its meaning for the general reader. Among these are the classics Physics and Philosophy, published by Dover in 1981, and Science and Music, published by Dover in 1968.

In the Author's Own Words:
"Put three grains of sand inside a vast cathedral, and the cathedral will be more closely packed with sand than space is with stars."

"Life exists in the universe only because the carbon atom possesses certain exceptional properties."

"The human race, whose intelligence dates back only a single tick of the astronomical clock, could hardly hope to understand so soon what it all means."

From Physics and Philosophy:
"Science usually advances by a succession of small steps, through a fog in which even the most keen-sighted explorer can seldom see more than a few paces ahead. Occasionally the fog lifts, an eminence is gained, and a wider stretch of territory can be surveyed — sometimes with startling results. A whole science may then seem to undergo a kaleidoscopic rearrangement, fragments of knowledge sometimes being found to fit together in a hitherto unsuspected manner. Sometimes the shock of readjustment may spread to other sciences; sometimes it may divert the whole current of human thought."


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Every student of physics and every serious musician should read this book.
Retired Physics Professor
The author's ability to give simple examples that are very eas to visualize is a strong point of the book.
Eddie Landsberg
That's OK, but I have to read it and re-read it, for the ideas to become understandable.
John Broecker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Roshan Kamath on December 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Although I'm personally a fan of Helmholtz's somewhat dated On the Sensations of Tone, "Science and Music" is in my collection because it condenses the essential physics (and a little bit of the biology) underlying music. Right from the elementary definitions of pitch/frequency/period, Sir James Jeans covers the theory of vibrations, the characteristics of strings & pipes, harmony & discord (including Helmholtz's theory of dissonance) - with a quick tour of [intonational] temperaments, and other miscellaneous topics.

The serious reader is probably better off digesting Helmholtz's detailed classic which could, however, prove to be a tedious read for the more casual reader. "Science and Music" instead presents a 'high-school' overview of the physics behind music. The non-technical way in which this book conveys its ideas also allows easy access for those students of music who have a minimal exposure to physics.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Landsberg VINE VOICE on December 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're a technical dummy like me, but what to understand some of the basic concepts behind how music, in particular soundwaves, are created work and behave... this is a great book. - - The author seems genuinely sincere in wanting to convey the concepts behind the science of sound to the everyday people and makes no attempt to intimidate of show off. - - No, after reading the book you won't be an expert acoustic engineer, but you might want to take further steps to become one... Topics start with the human ear, how sound waves are made/what they are -- the book explains frequency, harmonics, disonance, tuning systems, how scales and chords are put together to get these waves to behave the way we want them (and what happens when they don't) and then takes a look at a wide variety of instruments - - what factors control the sound in a room and lot's more. - - The author's ability to give simple examples that are very eas to visualize is a strong point of the book. - - If you are looking for something very mathematical and that assumes that you're a physics whiz, the book might not be so interesting, however, if you're a musician, there's a lot of insight to be gained by reading the book... and to boot... its very concise and has a great flow. In conclusion: even as a music teacher I would suggest my students to give this a read - - and the abstract realm of "music theory" will suddenly begin to make sense as get to wittness the source from where it comes from and realize that all it is is a bunch of logical conclusions which you'll be able to reach too after finishing the book.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By MATTHEW SWIFT on January 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book presents its material in an engaging and clear way, very interesting, but you must ignore certain outdated assertions in the introduction.
It's a solid general reference on the physics of sound (music in particular) from instrument through air to the ear. It predates cognitive science, it doesn't address that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Retired Physics Professor on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every student of physics and every serious musician should read this book. Having read many books on the "physics of music" this is by far the best i have ever read. Sir James Jeans offers incredible insight even approximately 70 years after is was written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Fraley on January 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book covers the basics of what sound is, how we here it, and how this is relevant to music. In some ways, this is a great summary of Helmholtz's fantastic work (from 1862), but *much* easier to read, and has the advantage of another 70+ years of research (Science and Music was originally published in 1937).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erol Esen VINE VOICE on August 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
There are numerous books on music theory and the science of sound, but what this book brings to the table is leaving mathematical treatment of the subject to geometry, and only geometry. Its presentation of simple harmonic motion, and then the superposition of multiple harmonic motions using circles and simple lines with geometric truths provides explanations that resonate with intuition.
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By E. M. Wilson on July 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is an adequate introduction to the physics of music and would benefit those wanting to know some of the fundamentals of what is actually quite a complicated subject. Those fundamentals have of course not changed since the book was written, but I would suggest that the serious reader in this area, one desiring to understand some of the details of musical phenomena right up to current electronic keyboard devices, should obtain a copy of the several more-recently-written texts. Sir James is well-respected for his popularization of a number of scientific subjects, but he was not particularly an expert at acoustics, so his name alone should have little to do with being a reason for purchase of this book.
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