DT2212 Music Acoustics 7.5 credits


Music has always been used for communication, entertainment, and artistic creation. The course in music acoustics covers the musical instruments as we know them today and new methods for generating sounds for musical purposes. The focus is on the acoustical principles and basic design of the traditional instruments. A general part treats the basics of our hearing and perception of sounds, and how music perception is influenced by the acoustical characteristics of the room.

  • Education cycle

    Second cycle
  • Main field of study

    Electrical Engineering
  • Grading scale

    A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Course offerings

Spring 19 for programme students

Spring 20 musak20 for programme students

Intended learning outcomes

After completing the course you should be able to

  • explain the acoustical function of musical instruments and the singing voice from basic physical principles
  • calculate and measure basic acoustical properties of musical sounds and instruments
  • design and calculate the dimensions of prototypes for string and wind instruments
  • describe and use different methods for modelling of musical instruments and for synthesis of musical sounds
  • apply basic laws of room acoustics to calculate sound levels, decay time, and reflection patterns and relate them to the influence of the room on the perception of music
  • extract and present the main content of a selection of scientific articles on music acoustics

Course main content

Acoustics: Wave equation, plane and spherical waves, electrical-acoustic-mechanical analogies. Eigenmodes, strings, membranes, and pipes. Fourier transforms and spectra.

Auditory Perception: The physiology of the ear. Frequency and pitch, vibrato. Amplitude and loudness. Masking. Spectrum, timbre, roughness. Perception of sound structures.

Musical instruments: Mechanical design. Principles of excitation source spectrum, feedback and spectral shaping by resonators. Spectral contents in steady-state and transients. Sound radiation. Brass, woodwind, strings, piano, organ, singing. Numerical synthesis.

Scales and Tuning: Equal temperament, Pythagorean and just tuning. Measurements on performed music, pure and stretched octaves.

Room Acoustics: Basic concepts, sound propagation in rooms, binaural hearing, artificial head stereophony.

Modelling and Computer Music: Synthesis methods. Physical modelling, control parameters.


Recommended prerequisites

Physics and fourier analysis equivalent to undergraduate level.
The course 2F1400/DT2400 Electroacoustics gives a good foundation.


Donald Hall: Musical Acoustics, 3rd ed. Brooks/Cole, 2002.

Kompletterande kurskompendium, KTH-TMH, 2005.

Rekommenderad bredvidläsning

Fletcher N.H. & Rossing T: The Physics of Musical Instruments, 2nd ed. Springer-Verlag, 1998.

Barron M: Auditorium Acoustics and Architectural Design, E & FN Spon, 1993.

Yost W: Fundamentals of Hearing, Academic Press, 2000.


  • LAB1 - Laboratory Work, 1.5, grading scale: P, F
  • PRO1 - Project, 1.5, grading scale: P, F
  • TEN1 - Examination, 4.5, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

In this course all the regulations of the code of honor at the School of Computer science and Communication apply, see: http://www.kth.se/csc/student/hederskodex/1.17237?l=en_UK.

Requirements for final grade

One written examination, laboratory course, project work.

Offered by

EECS/Human Centered Technology


Bob Sturm, e-post: bobs@kth.se


Sten Ternström <stern@kth.se>

Add-on studies

DT2213 Musical Communication and Music Technology may well be taken as a complementary course.


Course syllabus valid from: Spring 2019.
Examination information valid from: Spring 2019.