Acoustics Books

(updated 24 December 2019)

A selection of books on acoustics. We have provided guidance to the level of technical detail for some of these books.

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WW001: Acoustical Aspects of Woodwind Instruments, Revised Edition by C. J. Nederveen. Northern Illinois University Press, PB, 160 pages. A detailed mathematical study of the subject. Contents include: the excitation mechanism of woodwinds, holes and bore perturbations, examples, and an addendum of developments since 1969 first edition. (Published in July 1998.) This is the most technical book.
G004: Fundamentals of Musical Acoustics by Arthur H. Benade. Dover, PB, 596 pages. The Second, Revised Edition originally published in 1976. This is a hefty book with enough detail for a physicist but still rewarding to the layman. It includes about 75 pages specifically devoted to woodwinds.
G005: Horns, Strings, and Harmony by Arthur H. Benade. Dover, PB, 271 pages. An outstanding non-technical introduction to acoustics by Dr. Benade who was a physicist, flutist, and science educator. The book covers vibrating systems, the role of the human ear in hearing music, how pianos, violins, trumpets, oboes, clarinets, flutes, saxophones and many other instruments work. In addition, the author provides instructions for building a home made trumpet, clarinet, and flute. This is the least technical book by Benade.
G020: Music, Physics and Engineering by Harry F. Olson. Dover, 1967, PB, 460 pages. A wide ranging book covering both the mechanical and electronic areas of sound production and reproduction. Topics covered include sound waves, musical terminology, resonators and radiators, musical instruments and their characteristics, properties of music, acoustics (theater, studio, and room), sound-reproducing systems, and electronic music. Many charts, diagrams and equations are included. While many aspects of this book are quite technical, most of the information will be comprehensible to all musicians.
G021: On the Sensations of Tone by Hermann Helmholtz. Dover, 1954, PB, 576 pages. This is an unabridged reprinting of the 1885 translation by Alexander J. Ellis of the last German edition of Die Lehre von den Tonempfundungen. It includes a new introduction written in 1954. On the Sensations of Tone is regarded as one of the world's greatest scientific classics. It bridges the gap between the natural sciences and music theory. The first two parts of the book deal with the physics and physiology of music. The last part contains the author's theory on the aesthetic relationship of musical tones.
G048: Science & Music by Sir James Jeans. Dover, 1968, PB, 258 pages. An unabridged republication of the 1937 English edition of this classic book on musical sounds. It conveys precise information in a non-technical way for anyone interested in music. Includes the various means of producing sounds, hearing, scales, intonation, types of tuning, the concert hall, orchestras and many more topics.

Bindings:  HB: Hard Bound,  PB: Perfect Bound (paperback with square spine),  SS: Saddle Stitch (paper, folded and stapled),  SB: Spiral Bound (plastic or metal)