Semester 2, Academic Year 2023/2024

Two video lectures a week (BOTH to be viewed) to be viewed on YouTube

Lecturer: Prof Bernard Tan, email:
Tutor: Ms Lydia Lam, email:

Class tutorials will be scheduled for each tutorial group as shown in the Canvas timetable.


This module will be presented as video lectures instead of live lectures in a lecture theatre. Hence no lecture theatre has been allocated for the module. However, you are to keep the lecture slot on Wednesdays from 10 am to 12 noon reserved for class tests.

Video lectures

All lectures will be presented in the form of video lectures. There will be a total of 22 video lectures. In general there will be two video lectures a week with a break for the mid-term test.

The video lectures will be viewed on YouTube, and the URL for each lecture will be released on the module webpage together with the corresponding PowerPoint slide. Each video will remain available on YouTube for the duration of the semester until the final examination.


The tutorials will be conducted during odd and even weeks as shown in the Canvas timetable. The class will be divided into groups of about 30 students. Each tutorial group will attend one tutorial session every two weeks. There will be five tutorial sessions for each group over ten weeks.

If you are unable to register for the tutorial time-slot of your choice, please email Ms Lydia Lam (stating your matriculation number) about your desired tutorial time slot after the tutorial registration has ended.

The questions for each two-week tutorial cycle (which starts in week 3) will be made available on the module webpage a few days before each cycle begins.

The questions are for discussion during tutorials. Answers need not be handed up as no marks are allocated for tutorial answers. Tutorial attendance is not compulsory.


Tutorial set no. 1 and the answers.

Tutorial set no. 2 and the answers.<

Tutorial set no. 2.5 with answers.

Tutorial set no. 3 and the answers.

Tutorial set no. 4 and the answers.

Tutorial set no. 5 and the answers.

Tutorial set no. 6 with answers.


There will be a Mid-Term Test during Week 8. The details are as follows:

HSI2013 The Science of Music Mid-Term Test

Date: Wednesday, 13 March 2024 (Week 8)
Time: (10:15 -- 11:15) am
Duration: 1 hour
Venue: Multi-purpose Sports Hall 2A
Format: 25 Multiple Choice Questions (Open Book)
Scope: Lectures 1 to 12 (including open and closed pipes but excluding beats)

There will be an End-of-Term Test during Week 13. The details are as follows:

HSI2013 The Science of Music End-of-Term Test

Date: Wednesday, 17 April 2024 (Week 13)
Time: (10:15 -- 11:15) am
Duration: 1 hour
Venue: LT27 and S12-04-02
Format: 25 Multiple Choice Questions (Open Book)
Scope: All lectures

Submission: Answers are to be shaded using a 2B pencil on a computer-readable answer sheet provided. Make sure a full dark shade that represents your answer is made. PLEASE DO NOT USE PEN FOR SHADING as it will not be detectable by the grading machine.

Please bring along your matriculation card, a 2B pencil, an eraser and a calculator and arrive at the venue 10 minutes before test time. Refer to the lists of seat numbers and venue seating plans available in Canvas Files.

Open Book here means you could access your course materials (only lecture notes, tutorials and/or any personal notes on same subject) stored on any electronic device (such as your laptop or ipad) or on hard copy. There will not be any formula sheet given. Make sure you can easily have access to information such as keyboard arrangement, scale chart, etc. since memorisation is not necessary.

Take note that browsing of the Internet and any form of communication using any of your mobile or electronic device(s) are STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. Any cases of cheating will be reported directly to the University Disciplinary Board.

Both the Mid-Term and End-of-Term Tests are within scheduled lecture slots.

Make-up tests for students who have valid reasons for missing the tests, i.e. either a valid MC or official leave of absence granted by the University, will be scheduled in the week following each test.

MCs must be submitted within 24 hours of a Test to the Lecturer, Tutor or to Mdm Pang at the 1st year Physics Laboratory, S12, level 4.

Mid-Term Test answers.

End-of-Term Test answers.


Every student is required to submit an essay as an individual project.

The essay should be on the following topic:

Attend a musical concert or any live musical performance, which could be an SSO concert, a musical or an opera, a pop/rock concert, a jazz concert, a Chinese orchestra concert or any concert, performance or event in which the live performance of music is the main focus (this excludes plays or ballet/dance performances). Say in your own words how and why you have enjoyed (or not enjoyed) the performance. You should include some comments on how and why science and/or technology may have had an effect (positive or otherwise) on your musical experience and why, but the main focus of the essay should be on your personal views of the concert performance. The essay should be written from the point of view of a member of the audience, and NOT as one of the performers.

You may also write about a concert you have recently attended (within the last 3 months). This will include concerts during the months of October, November and December 2023. The concert should be a formal performance by live performers for an audience lasting at least 45 minutes. The concert may be either in an indoor or outdoor venue, and need not be a ticketed fee-paying performance.

You need not confine your essay to the content of the lectures. The essay should express your own opinions, and will be graded on content and writing ability.

The essay should have a word count of at least 200 words but not exceeding 800 words and should be written in English. If other languages are used in, for example, titles of musical pieces, an English translation should be provided. The essay should consist only of text and should NOT include any photographs or illustrations. Any references or bibliography should be included in the word count.

Please mention the name of the performer or group performing and the venue and date of the concert. Your essay MUST be entirely your own unaided work.

The essay should be submitted as a Microsoft Word file with the name:
where xxxxxxxxx is your matriculation number. Please put the number of words and your matric number at the end of your essay but do NOT include your name.

The submission deadline is at the end of week 10 of the semester, at the midnight of Saturday 30 March 2024, i.e. the midnight between Saturday 30 March and Sunday 31 March.

The Canvas workbin for the submission of the Essay project files will be opened a few days before the deadline.
Please do NOT email your essay files to me.


Every student is required to submit a MIDI music composition as an individual project.

The MIDI music composition is an electronic/computer music piece in MIDI format lasting at least 20 seconds, but not more than 60 seconds. MIDI files lasting less than 20 seconds and more than 60 seconds will be penalized.

The piece MUST be an original piece and NOT an arrangement of an existing piece of music.

It should be for at least two different General MIDI (GM) instruments, and for not more than five different General MIDI (GM) instruments. You are permitted to use any GM instruments except for instruments no. 121 to 128. Whatever number of GM instruments you choose to use from two to five, they should all be different instruments i.e. if you use the same instrument twice for more than one track/channel, it will be considered one instrument.

Your MIDI piece must begin with not more than two GM instruments, and continue thus for at least 8 seconds. Additional GM instruments should only enter the music after 8 seconds. (You are of course free to use only two instruments for the entire piece.)

If you intend to use the channel 10 percussion instruments, this will count as one instrument.

The list of GM instruments is in this file.

The piece MUST be entirely your own and unaided work.

The completed MIDI piece should be submitted in the form of a computer file in Standard MIDI format (SMF) with the name:


where xxxxxxxxx is your matriculation number.

You may use any music software to write the piece, as long as it is submitted as a MIDI in Standard MIDI format.

One freely available piece of software which you can use is Anvil Studio, which is only available for Windows. Mac OS X users can use MidiSwing or Melody Assistant (which is also available for Windows). Garageband is not suitable as it does not produce MIDI files. To obtain these freeware/shareware software packages, please see the links below.
Please note that to export Melody Assistant files to MIDI format, you will need to register and pay a fee of US$25.
There are many video tutorials on the website of Melody Assistant, so I will not be posting any such tutorials on this webpage.

The submission deadline is at the end of week 13 of the semester, at the midnight of Saturday 20 April 2024, i.e. the midnight between Saturday 20 April and Sunday 21 April.

MIDI files are to be submitted into the Canvas MIDI workbin which will be open a few days before the submission deadline.

MIDI sequencers

Anvil Studio for Windows.

MidiSwing for Mac OS X.

Melody Assistant for Windows and Mac (OS 8, 9 and X).

MuseScore, a freeware music notation program with MIDI output.


Watch Anvil Studio getting started tutorial on YouTube.
Watch Anvil Studio tutorial on note entry on YouTube.
Watch Anvil Studio tutorial on chord entry on YouTube.
Watch Anvil Studio tutorial on creating a new track on YouTube.
Watch Anvil Studio tutorial on creating a rhythm track on YouTube.
Watch MidiSwing tutorial on changing instruments on


Introductory lecture

Introductory lecture in ppt format.

Lecture 1

Lecture 1 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 1 on YouTube.

Lecture 2

Lecture 2 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 2 on YouTube.

Lecture 3

Lecture 3 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 3 on YouTube.

Lecture 4

Lecture 4 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 4 on YouTube.

Lecture 5

Lecture 5 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 5 on YouTube.

Lecture 6

Lecture 6 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 6 on YouTube.
The noise during slides 3 and 4 has been reduced.

Lecture 7

Lecture 7 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 7 on YouTube.

Lecture 8

Lecture 8 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 8 on YouTube.

Lecture 9

Lecture 9 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 9 on YouTube.

Lecture 10

Lecture 10 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 10 on YouTube.

Lecture 11

Lecture 11 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 11 on YouTube.

Lecture 12

Lecture 12 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 12 on YouTube.

Lecture 13

Lecture 13 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 13 on YouTube.

Lecture 14

Lecture 14 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 14 on YouTube.

Lecture 15

Lecture 15 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 15 on YouTube.

Lecture 16

Lecture 16 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 16 on YouTube.

Lecture 17

Lecture 17 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 17 on YouTube.

Lecture 18

Lecture 18 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 18 on YouTube.

Lecture 19

Lecture 19 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 19 on YouTube.

Lecture 20

Lecture 20 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 20 on YouTube.

Lecture 21

Lecture 21 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 21 on YouTube.

Lecture 22

Lecture 22 in ppt format.
Video lecture no. 22 on YouTube.

Musical Examples from YouTube

The first four examples below give real examples of conductors conducting various time signatures.
The basic conducting hand movements.

Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, 1st Movement. Watch in conjunction with slide 11 of lecture 5 to see how the conductor starts off the first bar which has a rest, using an extra up beat before the first down beat to establish the tempo. Otherwise with only the first downbeat, it would be impossible for the players to know the speed of the first three quavers.
Performance by BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

Example of 3/4 time signature: Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, 3rd Movement.
Performed by Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Santa.

Example of 5/4 time signature: Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, 2nd Movement. Note how 5/4 time is conducted as a 3+2 pattern.
Performed by State Symphony Orchestra of Tatarstan conducted by Feodor Gluschenko.
Performed by Orchestra del Teatro alLa Scala Milan Tatarstan conducted by Yuri Temirkanov.

Example of 5/4 time signature in jazz: Take Five.
Dave Brubeck Quartet (1961).

Example of melody with several notes of the same pitch: One Note Samba by Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Performed by Sharon Clark Quintet.

Example of choral piece demonstrating harmonic and contrapuntal aspects of music: Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah
Performance showing musical score.
Performance by Choir of King's College Cambridge.
Performance by Kampong Kapor Methodist Church Chancel Choir.

Example of how music is built from notes of a scale:
Do Re Mi from Rodger's and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music sung by Julie Andrews.

Online Webpianos

88-key realistic virtual piano.

Webpiano for online piano lessons using Macromedia flash.

The Pitch Helix

The pitch helix is a diagram which tries to show in graphical form the manner in which the pitches of the musical scale recur after an interval of an octave.
Two diagrams showing the pitch helix are here.

Tuning and Temperament webpages

What are musical scales?

Alternate Temperaments: Theory and Philosophy.

Just Temperament and Others.

The Theory Behind Chinese Music.

Ballinese scales.

Indian classical music.

Physics and sound webpages

University of New South Wales webpage on Physics of Music.

Website on the Mexican wave.

Beats demonstration.

Video demonstration on beats.

Musical examples from the dulcimer, clavichord, harpsichord and fortepiano and videos of buskers

YouTube video by David Schrader comparing the clavichord, harpsichord and piano.

The Classical Harpsichord Music Page.

Cimbalom player in Salzburg, September 2009.

Cimbalon player in Vienna, September 2010.

Bottle organ/marimba player in Vienna, September 2011.

Barrel organ player in Prague, September 2011.

Trio consisting of cimbalon, contrabass balalaika and accordion in Vienna, September 2012.

Links to piano action diagrams and animations

YouTube video of Cristofori piano action.

Grand piano action.

Upright piano action.

Steve's Piano Service piano action page.

Automatic pianos at the Musée Mécanique, San Francisco (2004)

A player piano showing its mechanism.

Close-up of the paper roll mechanism.

Another view of the paper roll.

Another player piano, with the paper roll in place of the keyboard.

Musée Mécanique website.

Youtube video on manufacture of player piano rolls.

Miscellaneous photographs of exhibits at the Haus der Musik (House of Music) Vienna (2009)

A dancing master's violin.

A square piano with a keyboard of 5 and half octaves, probably dating from the time of Beethoven.

An early six-string guitar dating from the time of Schubert.

A mechanical music box cylinder mechanism with the music of a Viennese waltz.

Weblink to the Haus der Musik (House of Music), Vienna.

YouTube videos on music boxes

How a music box works.

Reuge 72 note 15 song music box .

Reuge 144 note Grand Cartel music box.

Paper roll music box.

MIDI files

Large MIDI music archive.

Composers Offering MIDI Files on the Net.

Classical Piano MIDI Files.

Jazz MIDI Files.

Links to websites on FM synthesis

The fmmidi download page.
Fmmidi is a MIDI player for Windows which emulates the OPL4, a 2/4-operator FM synthesis chip. Simply drag your MIDI file onto the fmmidi window, and it will start to play. Please note that the Windows version has menus in Japanese, and the names of the GM instruments are also in Japanese. However, you can deduce which GM instruments are being played from the number of the instrument (with number 0 for Acoustic Grand Piano).

Fundamentals of FM synthesis explained.
An explanation of FM synthesis with audio examples.

Home page of the FM8.
The FM8 is the successor to the FM7, a software synthesizer created by Native Instruments which emulates all the functions of the legendary 6-operator Yamaha DX7 FM synthesizer. The FM8 costs US$149.

Dave Benson's DX7 page.
This comprehensive website on the DX7 and its derivatives includes a link to his excellent book on Mathematics and Music.

John Chowning's paper on FM synthesis.
"The Synthesis of Complex Audio Spectra by Means of Frequency Modulation", Journal of the Audio Engineering Society 7, no. 21:526–34 (1973).

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