Science of Music (GN)

Fall 2018

Tuesday, Thursday 9:05 - 10:20
110 Business Bldg.
3 credits

Instructor: Mark Ballora

227 Theatre Building
    Office Hours:
M & Th 1:00 - 2:00
or by appointment

   |    Class schedule    |    Demonstrations    |    Assignments

This class will cover elements of music from a scientific angle. Topics will include fundamentals of wave behavior, the human auditory system, the nature of musical scales, the nature of musical instruments and the voice, room acoustics, audio technology, and auditory streaming.

The course satisfied 3 credits of General Education Natural Science (GN).


A copy of the textbook will also be in the reserve section of the Pattee Library.

In general, this course follows the PSU Faculty Senate's attendance policies.
Attendance will not be taken in class.
Historically it has been the case that students who don't come to class get lower grades than students who come to class regularly.

Grades for the class will be based on points earned on assignments and tests. The available points are broken down as follows:

Homework packet 12
Homework packet 25
Homework packet 35
Homework packet 45
Homework packet 53
Homework packet 63
Homework packet 72
Homework packet 83
Homework packet 93
Homework packet 104
Midterm 120
Midterm 220
Final Exam25
Extra credit opportunities: 
Square Wave plot2
Sawtooth Wave plot2
Transverse Bar Frequencies2
All assignment grades will be recorded in Canvas. Students will have seven days from the day that grades are posted to resolve any grading issues.

Final grades will be awarded on the following scale (based on the Registrar's guidelines):

Points earnedGrade  Quality
93 and above
90 - 92.99
87.5 - 89.99
83 - 87.49
Very Good
80 - 82.99
75 - 79.99
High Passing
70 - 74.49
60 - 69.99
59.99 and below  

The tests for this class are meant to ensure that you have ingested and synthesized the concepts presented in the readings and in class presentations.
The midterm tests will take place during our class period, in the classroom. The final exam is scheduled by the Registrar.
There are keywords associated with each class session. You would do well to purchase a set of notecards and create flashcards, with the keyword on one side and the description of it on the next. Resist the temptation to copy and paste material from the Glossary page into a word processing document. You will retain information far better if you take the time to physically write it on the cards.
Review for the tests by quizzing yourself (or others in the class) with the flashcards. If you are really learning the material, you will find that elaborating on one keyword will inevitably lead you to another keyword and its description, which will then lead you to another, and so on. You can consider yourself prepared for a test if you can start with any one keyword, begin describing it, and find yourself describing every keyword fully, without prompting.
Review questions for each chapter will be made available when we have completed the material in class. The questions that appear on the tests will be taken from these review questions. If you are comfortable with the review questions, you should be able to answer all of the questions on the test.
Since all test questions will be posted in advance, please do not ask me to post answers to the questions as well. Answers to all questions are in the textbook, in class presentations, and, presumably, your class notes. If you are not sure of an answer, it indicate you do not fully understand the material, and would do well to review the book and your notes. You are welcome to explain your reasoning for why you think a particular answer is correct. But I will not be saying "The answer to that question is Choice B," or anything of that sort.

Homework is to be submitted via upload to Canvas. This is a good system for everyone: gives a concrete record of what students submit and when, and it keeps everyone honest. Be sure your work is properly uploaded. Do not consider your homework to be completed until it is uploaded to Canvas.
Late homework submissions present significant logistical problems for grading and record keeping. All work must be turned in on time to avoid penalty.
Homework submitted within 2 hours of the due date/time ("Slightly late") will be docked by 5%. Homework submitted within 24 hours after the due date/time ("Late") will be docked by 25%.
Homework submitted 24-48 hours after the due date/time ("Very late") will be docked by 50%.
Homework will not be accepted 48 hours after the due date/time.
At the grader's discretion, students who repeatedly submit work late may be "cut off" from any more late submissions.
Bottom line: everything will go smoothly if you turn your work in on time. Late submissions cause problems.


Students are responsible for conducting themselves with Penn State's expectations of academic integrity, and the spirit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. The University's Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. For more on the College of Arts and Architectures policies regarding academic integrity, please see

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. If you have a disability-related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807 (V/TTY). For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site at

In order to receive consideration for course accommodations, you must contact ODS and provide documentation (see the documentation guidelines at If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. Students must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.

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( 814-863-0395

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