prepared by Barry Truax
Professor Emeritus
Simon Fraser University


This document is intended to act as a teaching tutorial for sound terminology, theory and practice, across multiple disciplines, but focusing on acoustics, psychoacoustics, environmental acoustics, electroacoustics, speech acoustics, audiology, noise and soundscape studies. In many cases, we draw comparisons between these disciplines and attempt to explain their basic models and how they differ, beginning with the Introductory module.

The Tutorial functions in parallel with the Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, for which I have been Editor since the 1970s. The Handbook is essentially a dictionary of terminology with the same interdisciplinary range of topics. From its initial publication as a book in 1978 as part of the World Soundscape Project's documents, it has been designed with what today is a well-known form of cross-referencing called links. In 1999, the document was converted to HTML and first published as a CD-ROM with many added sound examples and active links. In recent years, it has been available online as a reference tool. Using this document in parallel with the Handbook, we can link basic terms that are used in the Tutorial to their succinct definitions which also provide more detail.
Tip: It is very easy to get lost in the Handbook links and have difficulty returning to the Tutorial. We suggest you only use the Handbook links to clarify a definition or look for further information, and then return to the main module using the "Back" button. However, if you're worried about getting lost, open the Handbook link in a new tab (Command click) and then you can simply close that window when done and find your place again easily.

Tip: If you want to enlarge a diagram, e.g. spectrogram, while listening to a soundfile, open the diagram link in a new tab (Command click) which will not interrupt the soundfile being played when you switch to the diagram.
The Tutorial is divided into a number of modules which are designed to cover a particular topic similar to a lab-based class or a set of studio demos. They are divided into an Acoustic set and an Electroacoustic set. Subtopics in each module can be accessed separately by a link in the series A, B, C, etc. A link at the end of each section allows you to return to the start of the module or this index page. Most modules include a multiple choice and true-or-false quiz so you can test your comprehension of the topic. The Acoustic modules follow the original Thematic Index for the Handbook.

Graphics, sound examples, listening exercises, demo's and videos complement the text and are designed to function in HTML5 embedded audio with the Safari or Firefox browsers (with the current state of browsers, it's doubtful that other browsers will work as well). Please note the many suggestions for "Personal Listening Experiments" and "Personal Studio Experiments" (collected in an index below) as theoretical knowledge always needs to be tested against active listening experience. The various indexes allow you another route for accessing the materials.

Structure of the Tutorial Modules

INTRODUCTION: Sound is .....
A survey of basic concepts in each discipline

Module 1: Sound-Medium Interface

(click on the number of the module)
 2. Vibration: Frequency and Pitch  11. Field Recording
 3. Vibration: Spectrum and Timbre
 12. Filters and Equalization
 4. Magnitude: Levels and Loudness
 13. Modulation and Auto-Convolution
 5. Sound-Environment Interaction
 14. Time Delays and Phasing
 6. Binaural Hearing and Acoustic Space
 15. Time Delays and Reverberation
 7. Sound-Sound Interaction
 16. Dynamic Range and Compression
 8. Speech Acoustics
 17. Microsound and Granular Synthesis
 9. Audiology and Hearing Loss
 18. Voice and Text-based Composition
 10. Effects of Noise and Noise Measurement Systems
 19. Soundscape Composition

Subject Index

Index of Demo's, Exercises, Listening Experiments and Sidebars

Handbook Index

Source References and Acknowledgements

copyright Cambridge Street Publishing, 2020