Career of the Month: An Interview with Musical Acoustics Scientist James Beauchamp

Journal Article by: Megan Sullivan Digital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

When we think of sound, several things come to mind, from irritating noises to our favorite songs. Musical acoustics is the scientific study of sound as it relates to music. Some musical acousticians research how instruments work and how they can be improved, others investigate how we perceive and think about music and musical sounds. James Beauchamp has developed computer programs that produce musical sounds similar to those created by instruments—in essence, virtual instruments. Because of scientists such as Beauchamp, computer music has evolved from only abstract layers of sound, to sounds that include replicas of real instruments.

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A selection from The Science Teacher—February 2008

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Reviews (2)
  • on Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:49 PM

There can be a variety of interests when one researches the role of a musical acoustics scientist. This interview relates the experiences and interests in a gentleman who uses computers to recreate the sounds of various musical instruments. This interest started in an interest in music as a hobby at a high school level. The reader learns about what he does and his contributions to music and science. This article would be a great read for the musicians in your science classroom in high school or younger. Combining a love for a hobby and a career has got to be a win-win situation.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:51 PM

This article shows how a love for music and science can mesh into a STEM career. Computer music has evolved into sounds that are created so realistically that real instruments, bands and orchestras can be simulated. That is one of the jobs of a musical acoustics scientist. The article highlights some of the things this type of scientist does and explains various career paths one can take to become this type of scientist.

Carolyn Mohr  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn Mohr (Buffalo Grove, IL)

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