Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Design Your Own Instrument - Section 3: Fundamental Frequency


Overtones are formed by additional standing waves forming at the same time as the primary standing wave that forms the fundamental frequency. It is the formation of overtones along with the resonance of the body of the instrument that gives the instrument its unique timbre. 

However, I have learned that students are quickly overwhelmed with detail when I introduce overtones to the physics of instruments at this time. They are often confused on which formula to use and what the difference is between the overtones and harmonics. I have tried graphic organizers to give structure to the concepts but students are still confused. So I have decided this time to delay the introduction of overtones until after students have mastered the concept of the fundamental frequency and how it applies to musical instruments.

  Overtones and harmonics
  Staircase of Complexity: Overtones and harmonics
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Design Your Own Instrument

Unit 5: Waves
Lesson 6 of 15

Objective: Students design their own musical instrument and apply the concept of standing waves to determine its frequencies.

Big Idea: In order to create a sustained note, standing waves must form in a musical instrument.

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Waves, Science, physics, resonance, standing waves, Musical Instruments, fundamental frequency
  50 minutes
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