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Edna Chapa Quezada




Sound 3
Light 6
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What is sound?
All sounds are vibrations traveling through the air as sound waves. Sound
waves are caused by the vibrations of objects and radiate outward from their
source in all directions. A vibrating object compresses the surrounding air
molecules (squeezing them closer together) and then rarefies them (pulling
them farther apart). Although the fluctuations in air pressure travel outward
from the object, the air molecules themselves stay in the same average
position. As sound travels, it reflects off objects in its path, creating further
disturbances in the surrounding air. When these changes in air pressure
vibrate your eardrum, nerve signals are sent to your brain and are
interpreted as sound.

Fundamentals of a Sound Wave
The simplest kind of sound wave is a sine wave. Pure sine waves rarely exist
in the natural world, but they are a useful place to start because all other
sounds can be broken down into combinations of sine waves. A sine wave
clearly demonstrates the three fundamental characteristics of a sound wave:
frequency, amplitude, and phase.

Frequency is the rate, or number of times per second, that a sound wave
cycles from positive to negative to positive again. Frequency is measured
in cycles per second, or hertz (Hz). Humans have a range of hearing from
20 Hz (low) to 20,000 Hz (high). Frequencies beyond this range exist, but they
are inaudible to humans.
Amplitude (or intensity) refers to the strength of a sound wave, which the
human ear interprets as volume or loudness. People can detect a very wide
range of volumes, from the sound of a pin dropping in a quiet room to a loud
rock concert. Because the range of human hearing is so large, audio meters
use a logarithmic scale (decibels) to make the units of measurement more
Phase compares the timing between two similar sound waves. If two periodic
sound waves of the same frequency begin at the same time, the two waves
are said to be in phase. Phase is measured in degrees from 0 to 360, where
0 degrees means both sounds are exactly in sync (in phase) and 180 degrees
means both sounds are exactly opposite (out of phase). When two sounds
that are in phase are added together, the combination makes an even
stronger result. When two sounds that are out of phase are added together,
the opposing air pressures cancel each other out, resulting in little or no
sound. This is known as phase cancelation.
Phase cancelation can be a problem when mixing similar audio signals
together, or when original and reflected sound waves interact in a reflective
room. For example, when the left and right channels of a stereo mix are
combined to create a mono mix, the signals may suffer from phase

Frequency Spectrum of Sounds
With the exception of pure sine waves, sounds are made up of many
different frequency components vibrating at the same time. The particular
characteristics of a sound are the result of the unique combination of
frequencies it contains.
Sounds contain energy in different frequency ranges, or bands. If a sound has
a lot of low-frequency energy, it has a lot of bass. The 2504000 Hz
frequency band, where humans hear best, is described as midrange. High-
frequency energy beyond the midrange is called treble, and this adds
crispness or brilliance to a sound. The graph below shows how the sounds of
different musical instruments fall within particular frequency bands.

Note: Different manufacturers and mixing engineers define the ranges of
these frequency bands differently, so the numbers described above are
The human voice produces sounds that are mostly in the 2504000 Hz range,
which likely explains why peoples ears are also the most sensitive to this
range. If the dialogue in your movie is harder to hear when you add music
and sound effects, try reducing the midrange frequencies of the nondialogue
tracks using an equalizer filter. Reducing the midrange creates a sonic
space in which the dialogue can be heard more easily.
Musical sounds typically have a regular frequency, which the human ear
hears as the sounds pitch. Pitch is expressed using musical notes, such as C, E
flat, and F sharp. The pitch is usually only the lowest, strongest part of the
sound wave, called the fundamental frequency. Every musical sound also has
higher, softer parts called overtones or harmonics, which occur at regular
multiples of the fundamental frequency. The human ear doesnt hear the
harmonics as distinct pitches, but rather as the tone color (also called
the timbre) of the sound, which allows the ear to distinguish one instrument
or voice from another, even when both are playing the same pitch.

Musical sounds also typically have a volume envelope. Every note played on a
musical instrument has a distinct curve of rising and falling volume over time.
Sounds produced by some instruments, particularly drums and other
percussion instruments, start at a high volume level but quickly decrease to a
much lower level and die away to silence. Sounds produced by other
instruments, for example, a violin or a trumpet, can be sustained at the same
volume level and can be raised or lowered in volume while being sustained.
This volume curve is called the sounds envelope and acts like a signature to
help the ear recognize what instrument is producing the sound.

Measuring Sound Intensity
Human ears are remarkably sensitive to vibrations in the air. The threshold of
human hearing is around 20 microPascals (P), which is an extremely small
amount of atmospheric pressure. At the other extreme, the loudest sound a
person can withstand without pain or ear damage is about 200,000,000 P:
for example, a loud rock concert or a nearby jet airplane taking off.
Because the human ear can handle such a large range of intensities,
measuring sound pressure levels on a linear scale is inconvenient. For
example, if the range of human hearing were measured on a ruler, the scale
would go from 1 foot (quietest) to over 3000 miles (loudest)! To make this
huge range of numbers easier to work with, a logarithmic unitthe decibel
is used. Logarithms map exponential values to a linear scale. For example, by
taking the base-ten logarithm of 10 (101) and 1,000,000,000 (109), this large
range of numbers can be written as 19, which is a much more convenient
Because the ear responds to sound pressure logarithmically, using a
logarithmic scale corresponds to the way humans perceive loudness. Audio
meters and sound measurement equipment are specifically designed to show
audio levels in decibels. Small changes at the bottom of an audio meter may
represent large changes in signal level, while small changes toward the top
may represent small changes in signal level. This makes audio meters very
different from linear measuring devices like rulers, thermometers, and
speedometers. Each unit on an audio meter represents an exponential
increase in sound pressure, but a perceived linear increase in loudness.
Important: When you mix audio, you dont need to worry about the
mathematics behind logarithms and decibels. Just be aware that to hear
incremental increases in sound volume, exponentially more sound pressure is
What Is a Decibel?
The decibel measures sound pressure or electrical pressure (voltage) levels. It
is a logarithmic unit that describes a ratio of two intensities, such as two
different sound pressures, two different voltages, and so on. A bel (named
after Alexander Graham Bell) is a base-ten logarithm of the ratio between
two signals. This means that for every additional bel on the scale, the signal
represented is ten times stronger. For example, the sound pressure level of a
loud sound can be billions of times stronger than a quiet sound. Written
logarithmically, one billion (1,000,000,000 or 109) is simply 9. Decibels make
the numbers much easier to work with.

What is light?
Light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which ranges from radio waves
to gamma rays. Electromagnetic radiation waves, as their names suggest are
fluctuations of electric and magnetic fields, which can transport energy from
one location to another. Visible light is not inherently different from the
other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum with the exception that the
human eye can detect visible waves. Electromagnetic radiation can also be
described in terms of a stream of photons which are massless particles each
travelling with wavelike properties at the speed of light. A photon is the
smallest quantity (quantum) of energy which can be transported and it was
the realization that light travelled in discrete quanta that was the origins of
Quantum Theory.
It is no accident that humans can see light. The detection of light is a very
powerful tool for probing the universe around us. As light interacts with
matter it can be become altered and by studying light that has originated or
interacted with matter, many of the properties of that matter can be
determined. It is through the study of light that for example we can
understand the composition of the stars light years away or watch the
processes that occur in the living cell as they happen

Matter is composed of atoms, ions or molecules and it is lights interaction
with matter which gives rise to the various phenomena which can help us
understand the nature of matter. The atoms, ions or molecules have defined
energy levels usually associated with energy levels that electrons in the
matter can hold. Light can be generated by the matter or a photon of light
can interact with the energy levels in a number of ways.
We can represent the energy levels in a diagram known as a Jablonski

What is energy?
Energy is the capacity of a system to do work. That system may be a jet,
carrying hundreds of passengers across the ocean. A babys body, growing
bone cells. A kite, rising on the wind. Or a wave of light crossing a space.
In moving or growing, each of these systems is doing work, and using energy.
Every living organism does work, and needs energy from food or
photosynthesis. Humans also create machines that do work for them, and
that derive energy from fuels.
Some of the many forms that energy takes are:

Mechanical energy, which includes
- Potential energy, stored in a system.
- Kinetic energy, from the movement of matter.
Radiant or solar energy, which comes from the light and warmth of the
Thermal energy, associated with the heat of an object.
Chemical energy, stored in the chemical bonds of molecules.
Electrical energy, associated with the movement of electrons.
Electromagnetic energy, associated with light waves (including radio
waves, microwaves, x-rays, infrared waves).
Mass (or nuclear) energy, found in the nuclear structure of atoms.

One form of energy can be converted to another form. This transfer is based
on the law of conservation of energyone of the laws of thermodynamics.
Humans converted energy from one form to another when they lit the first
fire. By burning wood, they released the chemical energy stored in the bonds
of the wood molecules, generating thermal energy, or heat. Other examples?
A battery generates electrons from chemical reactions, which are used to
make electrical energy. A toaster takes electrical energy and converts it to
heat. Your leg converts the chemical energy stored in your muscles into
kinetic energy when you pedal a bicycle.
Sound is a form of kinetic energy. Molecules of air are vibrated, causing them
to move in wave patterns. When these waves hit the eardrum, they make it
vibrate too. This vibration energy is turned into electrical energy impulses,
which your brain interprets as sound.
Many times, multiple conversions are involved. Consider nuclear power
generation. Atoms in the nuclear fuel are split, releasing their nuclear (mass)
energy and creating thermal energy. This heat energy is, in turn, captured in
the form of steam and used to drive a turbine generator, creating kinetic
energy. And, finally, this kinetic energy spins a magnetic field around a
conductor, causing a current to flowcreating electrical energy.
To measure energy, we use the "heating value" of the fuel, which indicates
how much of a certain fuel is converted to how much heat. Common units of
energy are the calorie and Btu.

Reference sources