Do-Re-Mi with Drinking Straws

Good Essays
When playing a musical instrument, shortening the length of the air tube will make the pitch higher, and expanding the length of the air tube will make the pitch lower. Drinking straws can be cut to different lengths to produce different pitches. They can form a type of “oboe” (a woodwind instrument, similar to a clarinet) that will vibrate and create a sound when it is blown into. A straw that is half the length of another straw will be exactly one octave higher than the longer straw. It is recommended to use paper straws, because plastic straws are harder to focus into one note.
Sound is a wave, which can change in pitch according to changing air pressure. It is produced by the vibrations of objects. Waves can be measured by speed (v), frequency (f), wavelength (λ), and period. The frequency of a wave describes how many cycles of a wave occur per unit time. A sound with a high frequency has more wavelengths in a set amount of time than a sound with a low frequency. High frequencies have smaller wavelengths, and low frequencies have larger wavelengths. The higher frequency, the higher the perceived pitch. The wavelength, frequency, and speed are all related by the equation: v = fλ. They can also be used in the equation: f = v/λ.
Wavelength is the difference between peaks or troughs in a sound wave. It is the measured difference between the highest parts or the lowest parts. When you combine tones that are an octave apart, the sound waves interfere. A trough will cancel out a peak of the same magnitude. There are two words that are used to define a good combination of tones and a bad combination of tones. “Consonant” is used to describe a pleasant-sounding interference pattern (combination of tones), and “dissonant” is used to ...

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...heir straw oboes together to form a type of pan-flute.
Straw oboes can teach us about wavelengths and the formation of sound through vibrations. We can also learn about mathematical equations that can allow us to cut our straws in a way that creates the do-re-mi scale. Tuning the straw oboes to the correct pitches can help us develop an ear for matching musical tones. It will also teach about the correct embouchure (position of the mouth) for playing a reed instrument.

Works Cited

(Olson, Andrew. Do-Re-Mi with Straws. N.p.: Science Buddies, 2013. N. pag. Science Buddies. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.)
(Arons, Eric. Making A Straw Woodwind. N.p.: Reach Out Michigan, n.d. N. pag. Reach Out Michigan. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.)
(Hodges, Richard. The Musical Scale and its Intervals. N.p.: RHodges, 2009. N. pag. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.)
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