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Q & A: Flutes and waves

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
what does a flutes sound wave look like?
- charlie (age 11)
Tenterfield,N.S.W, Australia
A:
Charlie,
If you could see how the air is moving when a flute is played, you would see something very close to a . This is caused as some air molecules are compressed, or forced to take up a smaller amount of space. When this air go back to it's normal amount of space, the air next to it compresses, and you get a wave.

All musical instruments give variations on this, but a flute is the closest to an actual sine wave. Different waveforms allow you to distinguish between the various sounds different instruments make. The louder they are, the bigger the wave is (in amplitude).

~Ann

(published on 10/22/2007)

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