Department of Physics


Experimental Results Guide Innovation

Experiments provide new insights into sound production in musical instruments. These insights lead to a deeper understanding of the science, improved computer modeling, better music synthesizers, and improvements in design.

The study of acoustics encompasses all aspects of sound and vibration, but at Rollins research in acoustics is primarily dedicated to studying the physics of musical instruments. Although many musical instruments have been in use for centuries, the physics involved in producing the sounds of instruments such as the clarinet, trumpet, and piano is still not completely understood. More exotic instruments such as Himalayan singing bowls or Nigerian slit log drums are even less well understood. In the acoustics laboratories we are investigating all of these instruments and more.

The acoustics laboratories at Rollins are stocked with state-of-the-art acoustical equipment, but one of the unique and most important aspects is the integration of new laser-based technology to the study of sound. New techniques and equipment have been developed at Rollins for visualizing minute vibrations of objects and students routinely use this equipment in their research along with high-speed cameras, laser Doppler vibrometers, and extensive computing resources. Using these techniques, Dr. Moore’s research examines brass instruments, piano, and percussion instrument acoustics, while Dr. Coyle focuses on woodwind instrument acoustics.