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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
ACE170 - Musical acoustics
Syllabus adopted 2020-02-19 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPSOV
7,5 Credits
Grading: UG - Pass, Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Physics

The course is only available for students having the course in their program plan
Teaching language: English
Application code: 38111
Open for exchange students: No
Maximum participants: 25
Only students with the course round in the programme plan

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0119 Written and oral assignments 7,5 c Grading: UG   2,5 c 5,0 c    

In programs

MPSOV SOUND AND VIBRATION, MSC PROGR, Year 2 (compulsory elective)
MPSOV SOUND AND VIBRATION, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)


Wolfgang Kropp

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General entry requirements for Master's level (second cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Course specific prerequisites

Basic course in acoustics.


Musical Instruments are part of our cultural heritage and have been developed over thousands of years. The functioning of musical instruments i.e. sound generation and radiation are of high complexity. Many of the underlying mechanisms are common with the mechanisms found in machinery (e.g friction bow string and squealing noise from tram wheels). Musical instruments also offer a deep insight in human perception which can be applied  in other areas such as room acoustics or sound design of products. The course aims to give acousticians a broader view on sound generation and sound radiation of musical instruments applicable also for traditional engineering problems where sound and vibrations plays an important role.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

  • classify and explain musical instruments according to their history, physical function, or musical use.
  • apply methods to describe musical instruments and their timbral and physical characteristics.
  • transfer the methodology and insight from musical instruments to e.g. applications in experimental vibrational analysis and noise control.
  • apply their acquired knowledge in rating quality and playability of musical instruments.


  • Harmonics and intervals.
  • Harmonics relation of fundamental and harmonics, formants, non-harmonics, perception of sounds.
  • Form, history, function, intonation, timbre, directivity and use in music for string instruments, flutes, woodwinds, brass, percussion instruments, synthesizers and voice.
  • Relevant parameters for hall and stage acoustics.
  • Methods for parameter assessment of acoustic properties.


The course comprises 14 lectures and a number of experimental tasks.


Recommended course literature is N. H. Fletcher & T. D. Rossing, 1997, The Physics of Musical Instruments, 2nd Edition, Springer

Examination including compulsory elements

Based on report of the project work.

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.