Sound wave

Sound waves are produced by vibrating objects. Some of the source of sound are talking, shouting, beating, beating drums, blowing of flutes, shooting of a rifle, a ringing telephone, the noise from moving cars and airplanes and musical instruments.


Sound travels from place to place as sound waves. Sound must have a substance to travel through i.e. it does not travel through a vacuum. There is nothing in a vacuum to pass on vibrations. Sound waves are longitudinal waves i.e. the air vibrates backwards and forwards in the wave is moving.

It can travel through solids, liquids and gases. The air changes the vibration into impulses which are carried into brain for interpretation.


  1. PITCH

This depends on the frequency of the sound waves. If the frequency is increase, the pitch of the sound also increases.


The loudness of the sound depends on its intensity. The intensity of the sound of the wave is the rate of the flow of energy per unit area, perpendicular to the direction of the wave.

Intensity is proportional to the square of the amplitude. The greater the intensity, the louder the sound.


This is the property which enables us to distinguish the same note  played on different instruments e.g. a piano and an organ, the quality of a musical notes depends on the harmonies. When a note is produced, the strongest, audible frequency heard is the fundamental. All other frequencies present ar harmonics or overtones.


If tuning fork A is struck and stopped, you find that it will cause tuning fork B to vibrate, provided both forks have the same frequency. This is called forced vibration. Other forms off forced vibration include:


Resonance is a special case of forced vibration which occurs when a system is made to vibrate at its own natural frequency as a result of forced vibrations received from another sources of the same frequency.


Stationary waves can occur on a stretched string or wire.. This is obtained by varying the driving frequency of the string.


Define the following terms

  1. Pitch
  2. Loudness
  3. Quality
  4. Resonance



  1. The frequency of a stretched string has a fundamental note produced given by the relation: (a) (b)(c) (d)
  2. A boy standing some distance from the foot of a tall cliff claps his hands and hears an echo 0.5s later. If the speed of sound in air is 340m/s, how far is he from the cliff? (a) 17m (b) 24m (c) 85m (d) 170m
  3. Which of the following is odd? (a) flute (b) trumpet (c) saxophone (d) guitar
  4. Sound wave differs from water wave………(a) energy transfer is involve (b) they can be refracted and reflected (c) no transfer of the medium is involved (d)They are longitudinal wave
  5. The periodic rise and fall in amplitude or loudness of the sound produced when two notes of nearly equal frequencies are sounded together is called (a) loudness (b) pitch (c) beat (d) note
  6. The characteristics note which helps to identify sound from different musical instruments is called (a) quality (b) loudness (c) beat (d) overtones
  7. A noise of frequency 2000Hz has a velocity of 400m/s. What is the wavelength of the noise? (a) 0.02m (b) 0.25m (c) 0.2m (d) 2m
  8. A man stands 50m in front of a cliff and claps his hands and the echo is heard 0.3seconds later. Calculate the speed of sound in air in metre per seconds (a) 333 (b) 330 (c) 233 (d) 220
  9. A source of sound produces waves in air if wavelength 1.65m. If the speed of sound in air is 330m/s, the period of vibration is (a) 200 (b) 0.005 (c) 0.5 (D) 0.02
  10. The speed of sound traveling in various media increases in the following correct order (a) iron bar, air, water (b) air, iron bar, water (c) air, water, iron bar (d) water, iron bar, air


  1. What is sound and how is it produced?
  2. Explain the following terms: (i) echo (ii) reverberation (iii) resonance
  3. A sound frequency 100Hz and wavelength 3.34m is travelling through air, calculate the velocity of sound in air

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