PHYSICS OF MUSIC

 

First: select a topic- it must be related to music and/or sound, and it must require physics, biology and/or mathematics to explain. Some criteria: • It must not be something we did (or will do) in lecture. However, you can review such material very briefly before going on to discuss your topic. • Pick something in which you are interested.
For example: if you play an instrument, sing, take classes in speech or music composition, etc., you can select a related topic. Alternatively, you can choose a something of which you have heard that piques your curiosity- unusual instruments (ex: theremin), effects not discussed in class (ex: Doppler effect), etc. • Two students cannot do a project together. If students select the same subject, they must either divide it up (and earn separate grades), or one must choose to do something else. Second: do the research. Find out as much as you can about your topic- even material you cannot use in class. Occasionally a student comes up with a terrific idea for a project, and then discovers he cannot use his idea because • there isn’t enough information available. • not enough is known, and all the available information is opinion, not objective facts. • the topic is too difficult to understand and/or to explain and so on. Third: when you are ready, submit an outline of your project. (Note: an outline is a point-by point list of the topics you will cover, not the presentation itself!) This is done by sending me an e-mail; you must also tell me whether the project is a paper or a presentation. Within a few days (and sometimes within a few hours, depending on the demands on my time,) I will let you know, by e-mail, if the project is acceptable. If your idea is acceptable and you wish to do a presentation (not a paper), I will ask you to set a date for an oral presentation. If your topic is not okay, I will tell you why. Some common problems: • the outline covers too much material for a 15 minute presentation, or even for a paper. • the outline covers too little material. • there is not enough science behind your topic. • someone else has already chosen your topic. • the material in your outline will be covered in lecture later in the term. Sometimes these objection(s) can be overcome. (Ex: if your outline is to short, you can do further research; if someone else has chosen your topic, you can meet with that person and come to some division of labor; if I will discuss your topic I can tell you how far I go, and you can present further information on the same topic.) If the problem cannot be solved, you will have to find another topic. Oral presentations: Generally 10 to 15 minutes long; after 20 minutes I will stop you. • You may use handouts- if you give me a diagram or a document at least a week before your presentation, I will make copies (in black-and-white) for the entire class. • You may use PowerPoint; put your slides on a flash drive and bring it to class. (The system in the lecture hall will put your slides on a large overhead screen.) Again: slides should be an outline, not everything you intend to say. • You may also use the internet and YouTube videos; however, you must do the explaining. Do not rely on a video for explanation- it is for demonstrations only. Use short video clips- they cannot be a large percentage of your presentation. For example: a project on a musical instrument might use a one minute clip of a professional musician playing it. One warning: there are a limited number of spots for oral presentations; I cannot give up all my lecture time to presentations. Submit your outline early to secure a date for presentation. When all the spots are gone, no more presentations will be scheduled.

Papers: should be 6-10 pages long using 12-point Times New Roman font, single spaced, with one inch margins all around. (NOTE: This document has the specified formatting, and consists of 1286 words.) This means your paper must be over 3000 words long. Papers that are too short will start with a substantially lowered grade.
Also: • All papers must be submitted on or before Monday, December 12, the last day of class.
• There should be a bibliography (so I know where you got your information) and a title page; neither counts toward the 6-10 pages.
• It must be submitted as a WORD document (NOT PDF), sent to me by e-mail (not handed in during lecture); I must receive it on or before the last day of class. I will acknowledge its receipt by return e-mail. (If you do not receive that acknowledgment, I did not receive it- send it again! I do not accept excuses like "I sent it, you just didn’t get it.")

• I can tell the difference between drivel and facts.

Here is a 139 word drivel: This interesting and easily demonstrated effect is extremely important, and has many valuable applications. In 1999, R.C. Jones, one of the acknowledged founding fathers in this new and rapidly growing technique, said in a public radio interview; "Widgeting has the greatest potential for radically changing the accepted standard of electronic whatnots. I predict that, within two decades, no viable whatnot will be created without at least one widget in its circuitry, modifying and mediating its functionality." At present, a mere fifteen years after this initial prediction, a whopping eighty-seven percent of all commercially produced two-valve whatnots include at least one lateral widget in some part of its overall structure. These embedded devices not only sharply improve the crystal clarity of even the least expensive whatnot, but are actually an integral and critical part of its fundamental design. Notice the excessive use of adjectives and adverbs, meaningless phrases, and a useless quote that carries no real information. In fact, that the only information conveyed by the entire paragraph is that most whatnots are built with widgets (put in any nouns). Contrast that to the style of this document- each word carries meaning, with no extraneous descriptors. If you use a quote, it must have a purpose and add information (with its source clearly identified).

• Your paper cannot be simply downloaded from some internet site or copied from a book- it must be in your own words. For the Queens College policy on plagiarism, visit the following site: http://library.qc.cuny.edu/research/tutorials/citandbib/plagiarism.php Grades: Here is how your project will affect your grade:
• If the project grade is significantly higher than either of the two in-class exams, the project grade will be substituted for the lower exam.
• If the project grade is higher than the final but lower than your in-class test scores, the final will count 20% and your project will count 20%.
• If all your exams (including the final) have about the same grade as your project: the project will raise your grade by one step (say, B+ to A-).
• If the project grade is substantially lower than all your grades, it will be ignored.. The project can never lower your grade unless plagiarism is involved. Please note: a paper is a much more formidable task than an oral presentation- it must contain 6 to 10 pages of information. I strongly recommend the oral presentation- it is easier and much more fun

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