Gen Ed 1080 - How Music Works: Engineering the Acoustical World

Teaching fellow for undergraduate course (Falls 2021-2023), Harvard University, Program in General Education, 2024

Course Description from Catalog: How does Shazam know what song is playing? Why do some rooms have better acoustics than others? How and why do singers harmonize? Do high-end musical instruments sound better than cheap ones? How do electronic synthesizers work? What processes are common in designing a device and composing a piece of music? How is music stored and manipulated in a digital form? This class explores these and related themes in an accessible way for all concentrators, regardless of technical background. The class is driven by hands-on projects to enhance your technical literacy, a critical skill for anyone designing solutions to today’s most pressing and complex issues. The projects are designed so that the creativity of students in all fields will have a role to play. Lectures, demonstrations, and guest lecturers/performers are integrated into the class to build foundational knowledge and to inspire. We will also explore wider social and historical themes related to music and acoustics. The class is approached from an engineering perspective, using music and musical instruments as the framework to introduce a broad array of concepts in physics, mathematics, and engineering. Requires no previous exposure to physics or calculus beyond the high school level.