October 2016

How Human Hearing Works

For the first installment of How It Works, we explained how our ears work to perceive sound.

To test your knowledge on the article, click here to take a short quiz.

As we move forward in the season, How It Works will continue to expose music for what it is in its most basic form: sound. That should force us to call into question how we think about music entirely. When listening to music, we hear lyrics, melodies, harmonies, and the vocals and instruments that produce them. But how often do you consider the role of physics in the production of music?

Experimental composer John Cage (1912-1922) did frequently. Watch the video below of him performing his composition “Water Walk” on the TV show I’ve Got a Secret in 1960. How does it change the way you see music? We hope it makes you think about how it all works.