iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for The Physicist's Guide to the Orchestra

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Last on

Thu 6 Dec 2012 11:30 BBC Radio 4

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 06 December 2012

In 1945, Benjamin Britten wrote The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, showing off the instruments of the orchestra in a short film. Viewers are taken through each section of the orchestra accompanied by a narration which describes the different sound quality of instruments: 'Clarinets ... make a beautifully smooth, mellow sound', flutes have a 'sweet voice' and the oboe has a 'plaintive quality.'

Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford, looks at the physics behind the way orchestral instruments produce their unique sound. How is the sound produced, and how much does the material from which the instrument is made affect the sound?

Trevor talks to scientists who have studied musical instruments - David Sharp from the Open University, Mike Newton at Edinburgh University and Jim Woodhouse of Cambridge University. And members of the BBC Philharmonic provide the players' perspective.

Broadcasts

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss