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Week 2 Assignment

Hi, I'm Adi Niko from Chicago, Illinois, USA. is lesson is for Week 2 of Introduction To Music Production at Coursera.org. I will be teaching the dierent methods and tools music producers use to visualize sound.

e software I'll be using for this lesson are:

Logic Pro 9

its built-in oscillator

its music loop library

Ozone Insight metering plug-in

It's extremely important that we have tools to visualize sound because they help us understand the sounds we hear, and also assign meaning to the measurement numbers that are often referred to when mixing audio (for example, being able to understand what it means when someone says there's a problematic peak at 1kHz). Seeing audio data visualized helps us better understand what we hear.

ere are three main ways we can visualize sound:

an oscilloscope

a spectrum analyzer

a spectrogram

I'll go through each and explain their parameters and functions.

Before describing each method of visualization, it's worth noting that displaying sound is itself a challenge because sound travels as a longitudinal wave (with its amplitude moving in the same direction as its propagation), not a transverse wave (where the amplitude is perpendicular to the direction of propagation). Because of this, there's no good way to easily visually represent the behavior of a longitudinal wave like sound, so we commonly visualize sound as if it was a transverse wave (that is, as if it's motion was perpendicular to the direction it was traveling, so that it looked like the motion of an ocean wave or a cowboy's whip.)

Oscilloscope

An oscilloscope displays a sound's amplitude at the present moment in time. e vertical axis displays the amplitude (an objective measure of how much energy the sound has), while the horizontal axis displays time. It actually shows a transverse representation of the longitudinal compression and rarefaction of air the sound being played would create if played over speakers.

An oscilloscope can also be thought of as a microscopic, very zoomed-in view of an audio le's waveform.

Here is a hardware oscilloscope displaying a sine wave at 440 Hz:

is a hardware oscilloscope displaying a sine wave at 440 Hz: A problem with the oscilloscope's

A problem with the oscilloscope's method of visualization is that it doesn't allow you to easily determine what the frequency of the sound being monitored is.

Spectrum Analyzer

In contrast, a spectrum analyzer is used speci cally to visualize what frequencies a sound contains.

e horizontal axis of a spectrum analyzer is frequency and the vertical axis is amplitude. Low- frequency sound energy is shown on the left side, and high-frequency sound energy is on the right side, thereby allowing you to see where on the frequency spectrum a sound has its energy.

A kick drum, for example, has a lot of energy in the low-frequency range (left-hand side) of a

spectrum analyzer's visualization, while a crash cymbal would have most of its energy in the high- frequency range (right hand side).

Here's a snapshot of the sine wave being played at 500 Hz (oscillating at 500 times per second). You can see all the energy of the sound is concentrated around there. (It's worth noting that even though the energy seems to extend to neighboring frequencies, this is only a limitation of the display, and the energy only truly exists at 500 Hz).

extend to neighboring frequencies, this is only a limitation of the display, and the energy only

Here is a spectrum analyzer displaying a square wave at 500 Hz, allowing you to see not only the fundamental frequency at 500 Hz, but also the harmonics at integer multiples of that frequency (e.g. 1500 Hz, 2500 Hz, etc.)

multiples of that frequency (e.g. 1500 Hz, 2500 Hz, etc.) Below is a snapshot of a

Below is a snapshot of a spectrum analyzer while playing a drum loop. On the left-hand side you'll see the strong energy of the kick drum, while on the right side is the complex energy of the cymbals.

on the right side is the complex energy of the cymbals. A problem with a spectrum

A problem with a spectrum analyzer it that, like the oscilloscope, it's still just a momentary picture,

only showing the frequency content of a sound at a speci c moment. is means that at every

moment, the frequencies of the sound you're analyzing change. One way for a spectrum analyzer

to help you get a better sense of the sound's history is by having a “peak hold” function, which can

show you how loud the sound as been recently. In the above snapshot, the peak hold function is engaged, and is represented by the brighter green line that is highest. is shows you that recently, that is the loudest the sound has been across the spectrum.

Spectrogram

A spectrogram is like a spectrum analyzer, but repeated over time to draw a continuous historical

view of the sound. e horizontal axis is time, the vertical axis is frequency, and the Z-axis (depth)

is amplitude.

Here is a spectrogram graph I made by changing the pitch of a sine wave oscillator. You can see it continuously changes, tracking the changes I made to the sine wave's pitch. Notice how bright the line is never changes because the amplitude never changed.

I made to the sine wave's pitch. Notice how bright the line is never changes because

Here's a more complex spectrogram showing the frequency content of a drum loop. At the high end is when the hi-hats play and the low-end is when the kick drum hits.

the hi-hats play and the low-end is when the kick drum hits. Re ection I unfortunately

Re ection

I unfortunately couldn't nd any tools within Logic to show an oscilloscope, and I would have liked more time to give more examples of the way the tools are used. I also had problems formatting the images, but I hope I explained everything clearly. Please let me know how I can improve!