Musical acoustics or music acoustics is a branch of acoustics concerned with researching and describing the physics of music – how sounds are employed to make music. Examples of areas of study are the function of musical instruments, the human voice (the physics of speech and singing), computer analysis of melody, and in the clinical use of music in music therapy. Musical acoustics or music acoustics is a branch of acoustics concerned with researching and describing the physics of music – how sounds are employed to make music. Examples of areas of study are the function of musical instruments, the human voice (the physics of speech and singing), computer analysis of melody, and in the clinical use of music in music therapy. Whenever two different pitches are played at the same time, their sound waves interact with each other – the highs and lows in the air pressure reinforce each other to produce a different sound wave. Any repeating sound wave that is not a sine wave can be modeled by many different sine waves of the appropriate frequencies and amplitudes (a frequency spectrum). In humans the hearing apparatus (composed of the ears and brain) can usually isolate these tones and hear them distinctly. When two or more tones are played at once, a variation of air pressure at the ear 'contains' the pitches of each, and the ear and/or brain isolate and decode them into distinct tones. When the original sound sources are perfectly periodic, the note consists of several related sine waves (which mathematically add to each other) called the fundamental and the harmonics, partials, or overtones. The sounds have harmonic frequency spectra. The lowest frequency present is the fundamental, and is the frequency at which the entire wave vibrates. The overtones vibrate faster than the fundamental, but must vibrate at integer multiples of the fundamental frequency for the total wave to be exactly the same each cycle. Real instruments are close to periodic, but the frequencies of the overtones are slightly imperfect, so the shape of the wave changes slightly over time. Variations in air pressure against the ear drum, and the subsequent physical and neurological processing and interpretation, give rise to the subjective experience called sound. Most sound that people recognize as musical is dominated by periodic or regular vibrations rather than non-periodic ones; that is, musical sounds typically have a definite pitch. The transmission of these variations through air is via a sound wave. In a very simple case, the sound of a sine wave, which is considered the most basic model of a sound waveform, causes the air pressure to increase and decrease in a regular fashion, and is heard as a very pure tone. Pure tones can be produced by tuning forks or whistling. The rate at which the air pressure oscillates is the frequency of the tone, which is measured in oscillations per second, called hertz. Frequency is the primary determinant of the perceived pitch. Frequency of musical instruments can change with altitude due to changes in air pressure. *This chart only displays down to C0, though some pipe organs, such as the Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Organ, extend down to C−1 (one octave below C0). Also, the fundamental frequency of the subcontrabass tuba is B♭−1. The fundamental is the frequency at which the entire wave vibrates. Overtones are other sinusoidal components present at frequencies above the fundamental. All of the frequency components that make up the total waveform, including the fundamental and the overtones, are called partials. Together they form the harmonic series. Overtones that are perfect integer multiples of the fundamental are called harmonics. When an overtone is near to being harmonic, but not exact, it is sometimes called a harmonic partial, although they are often referred to simply as harmonics. Sometimes overtones are created that are not anywhere near a harmonic, and are just called partials or inharmonic overtones. The fundamental frequency is considered the first harmonic and the first partial. The numbering of the partials and harmonics is then usually the same; the second partial is the second harmonic, etc. But if there are inharmonic partials, the numbering no longer coincides. Overtones are numbered as they appear above the fundamental. So strictly speaking, the first overtone is the second partial (and usually the second harmonic). As this can result in confusion, only harmonics are usually referred to by their numbers, and overtones and partials are described by their relationships to those harmonics.