This web page has been created to support the

Science Olympiad

Sounds of Music Event


About half of the teams in the invitationals, regionals, and state events in Ohio in 2006 were knocked down to Tier 4 just because their instruments were an octave higher or lower than the participants thought!  It is hard to hear this by ear, sometimes, and electronic tuners usually don't report the octave, even though they may give a precise report of the pitch.  The only reliable way to tell the octave is to use a spectrum analyzer.  Here is a document that explains how to use the free Audacity computer software to measure the sound spectrum of your instrument and figure out the octave.

Determining Pitch - PDF file

Determining Pitch - HTML

Some sample sound files for you to practice on

(and their analyzed frequencies)

Flute 1
Xylophone 1
Chimes 1
Flute 2
Xylophone 2
Water Glass
Flute 3
Xylophone 3

Basic Concepts

A. Theory outline

B. Sample Test  (Ohio State Science Olympiad, Sounds of Music, 2002)
Download PDF file

Coaches Training, OSU, October 29, 2005

Download MS-Word doc

Get Audacity sound analysis software

Also of interest:

From the national Science Olympiad website

Sounds of Music

ASA Musical Acoustics Website Project

Current version under development
Sound Analysis Software

Important Events
Science Olympiad - Ohio State
Science Olympiad - National

I will keep adding to this site, so check back  from time to time.  For example, I have a few years worth of item analysis for the exam, and I plan to post it when I get it organized, so you can see what parts gave past olympians the most trouble.

Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have about musical instruments and  the physics of music.  If I come up with any good answers of wider applicability, I'll post them too!

Peter Hoekje
Associate Professor of Physics
 Department of Physics
 Baldwin-Wallace College
 Berea, OH 44017 
 (440) 826-2494

Professional Interests
   Musical Acoustics
   Physics Education