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A drum produces sound via a vibrating membrane

In physics, Sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and psychology, sound is the reception of such waves and their perception by the brain.


  • Which is more musical, a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?
    • John Cage, "Communication", the third of the Composition as a Process lectures given in Darmstadt in 1958 and published in Silence. Many of Cage's works use sounds traditionally regarded as unmusical (radios not tuned to any particular station, for instance): he really did believe that the sound of a truck and the sounds made in a factory had just as much musical worth as the sounds made in a music school. There is also a suggestion expressed in the quote that in order to determine the artistic worth of something, it is necessary to examine the context in which it exists.
  • A sound does not view itself as thought, as ought, as needing another sound for its elucidation, as etc.; it has not time for any consideration--it is occupied with the performance of its characteristics: before it has died away it must have made perfectly exact its frequency, its loudness, its length, its overtone structure, the precise morphology of these and of itself.
  • Music has no subject beyond the combinations of notes we hear, for music speaks not only by means of sounds, it speaks nothing but sound.
  • You know the sound of two hands clapping; tell me, what is the sound of one hand?
    • Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769). The phrase is a Kōan, an irrational comment used in Zen Buddhism in order to assist practitioners in reaching enlightenment.
  • Whenever you wash dishes, cook, or clean, if you make no sound, this is smartness itself. A person who enters a house and makes a lot of noise is revealing a lack of spirituality; even cats and dogs do not make unnecessary sounds, and man as he naturally is does not make any either.
  • I have for a long time been of opinion that the quantity of noise anyone can comfortably endure is in inverse proportion to his mental powers, and may therefore be regarded as a rough estimate of them. Therefore, when I hear dogs barking unchecked for hours in the courtyard of a house, I know what to think of the mental powers of the inhabitants. The man who habitually slams doors instead of shutting them with the hand, or allows this to be done in his house, is not merely ill-mannered, but also coarse and narrow-minded.
  • They say gravity is the centre of attraction ; I rather think that noise is. Nothing so soon assembles the inhabitants of a house as a loud and sudden noise:
  • If we come down to the other end of this great gamut, to very slow vibrations, we shall find a certain number so slow as to affect the heavy matter of the atmosphere to strike upon the tympanum of our ear and reach us as sound there may be, and there must be, an infinity of sounds which are too high or too low for the human ear to respond to them; and to all such sounds, of which there must be millions and millions, the human ear is absolutely deaf. If there be vibrations so slow that they appear to vs as sound, and other exceedingly rapid ones which appear as light, what are all the others? Assuredly there are vibrations of all intermediate rates We have them as electrical phenomena of various kinds; we have them as the Rontgen rays. In fact, the whole secret of the Rontgen rays, or X-rays, is simply the bringing within the capacity of our eyes and within the field of our vision a few more rays, a few of the finer rates of vibration, which normally would be out of our reach
  • All music is just performances of 4'33" in studios where another band happened to be playing at the time.
  • Doctor: It plays music. What's the point of that? Oh, with music, you can dance to it, sing with it, fall in love to it. Unless you're a Dalek of course. Then it's all just noise.
    • Doctor Who, Evolution of the Daleks (2007), written by Helen Raynor.
  • Could we not imagine that itself nothing more than the sum of a multitude of different sounds which are being heard simultaneously?
  • If a tree falls in a forest, and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?
    • Source unknown, but apparently originating in the twentieth century; a 1910 physics book asks "When a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no animal is near by to hear it, does it make a sound? Why?" Charles Riborg Mann, George Ransom Twiss, Physics (1910), p. 235. See also: If a tree falls in a forest.
  • Now I will do nothing but listen,
    To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it.
I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals,
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,
Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night,
Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of work-people at their meals,
The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick,
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence,
The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters,
The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color'd lights,
The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars,
The slow march play'd at the head of the association marching two and two,
(They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are draped with black muslin.)
I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's complaint,)
I hear the key'd cornet, it glides quickly in through my ears,
It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.
I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera,
Ah this indeed is music--this suits me.”

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 740.
  • A thousand trills and quivering sounds
    In airy circles o'er us fly,
    Till, wafted by a gentle breeze,
    They faint and languish by degrees,
    And at a distance die.
  • A noise like of a hidden brook
    In the leafy month of June,
    That to the sleeping woods all night
    Singeth a quiet tune.
  • By magic numbers and persuasive sound.
  • I hear a sound so fine there's nothing lives
    'Twixt it and silence.
  • And filled the air with barbarous dissonance.
  • Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds,
    At which the universal host up sent
    A shout that tore hell's concave, and beyond
    Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.
  • Their rising all at once was as the sound
    Of thunder heard remote.
  • To all proportioned terms he must dispense
    And make the sound a picture of the sense.
  • The murmur that springs
    From the growing of grass.
  • What's the business,
    That such a hideous trumpet calls to parley
    The sleepers of the house? Speak, speak!
  • Hark! from the tombs a doleful sound.
    • Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II. Hymn 63.
  • My eyes are dim with childish tears,
    My heart is idly stirred,
    For the same sound is in my ears
    Which in those days I heard.

See also

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