D. R. Raichel: The Science and Applications of Acoustics


















Daniel R. Raichel: The Science and Applications of Acoustics

Hardcover, 2000, ISBN 0-387-98907-2, xiv + 598 pages, index; New York: Springer-Verlag; $69.95. Springer-Verlag New York, Inc., 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, USA; electronic mail service@springer-ny.com; World Wide Web http://www.springer-verlag.com/

Reviewed by Nico Schüler

To say it right to begin with: Daniel R. Raichel's textbook "The Science and Applications of Acoustics" is an excellent introduction to acoustics from an interdisciplinary point of view, and may be usable, because of its fundamental approach, for mathematically well-educated readers (who should specifically be knowledgeable in differential and partial differential equations). The book is indeed intended for upper undergraduate level courses, graduate courses, or for general reference purposes in the areas of science and engineering. However, Raichel's book can also function as an excellent source for recording artists, composers, and music theorists (in a broader understanding of the area).

The author of the book, Daniel R. Raichel, who is affiliated with the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the School of Architecture, Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture at CUNY's City College of New York, is well known for pioneering studies on the propagation of sound waves in real fluids, underlying principals of animal echolocation, noise control studies, architectural acoustics, and loudspeaker design. As author or co-author of more than 100 publications, Raichel is one of the leading scholars in the area of mechanical engineering, specifically acoustics.

"The Science and Applications of Acoustics" is published in a series on Modern Acoustics and Signal Processing by AIP Press (which now is an imprint of the Springer-Verlag). This series focuses on acoustics as a discipline with an extremely broad interdisciplinary scope, spanning physics, electrical and mechanical engineering, mathematics, oceanography, psychology, music, speech and communication, etc. With this focus of the series, Raichel's book must keep this broad interdisciplinary focus as a general textbook for courses in acoustics.

The book is structured in a way that the first six chapters discuss fundamentals of acoustics: a short history of the science of acoustics; fundamentals of acoustics; sound wave propagation and characteristics; vibrating strings; vibrating bars; and membrane and plates. The understanding of these chapters is certainly a requirement for the study of the following chapters, which focus on: pipes, waveguides, and resonators; acoustic analogues, ducts, and filters; sound-measuring instrumentation; physiology of hearing and psychoacoustics; acoustics of enclosed spaces (architectural acoustics); walls, enclosures, and barriers; criteria and regulations for noise control; and machinery noise control. The book concludes with the following, more specialized areas (that can, when used as a textbook, be skipped, depending on the main focus of the course): underwater acoustics; ultrasonics; music and musical instruments; and vibration control. In the end of most chapters, references are listed and practical problems are formulated. Finally, Raichel included three useful appendices in the book: on physical properties of matter, on Bessel functions, and on Laplace transforms to solve differential equations. An index enables the reader to quickly search for specific concepts, terms, or names.

Most chapters of the book are of interest to musicians: Chapter 10, for instance, gives an excellent introduction to the physiology of hearing and to psychoacoustics--a must for all musicians. Chapter 11, on architectural acoustics, is also very important, since any listening quality is greatly affected by room surroundings; here, the author provides a thorough summary of the concepts of architectural acoustics and their practical applications. And while only a few chapters are of lesser interest to musicians, composers, recording artists, etc. (the chapters on machinery noise control, on underwater acoustics, and on ultrasonis), the longest chapter of the book is on music, specifically on music and musical instruments (chapter 17). This chapter covers general concepts of musical notation and musical instruments (strings, wind instruments, percussion instruments, as well as electrical and electronic instruments), recording equipment, and playback audio equipment. But because of the general focus of the book, Raichel did not go into detail regarding different kinds of notation (notations and concepts of modern music or of music in non-Western cultures) and different classifications of musical instruments. In addition, this chapter lacks explanations of the relationships between notation and actual performance. Unfortunately, the chapter on music and musical instruments does not include a section with problems (exercises)--as a result of providing just a general introduction to the musical concepts mentioned above. However, the reader should keep in mind that the main focus of the book is certainly not musical acoustics and that the chapter on music and musical instruments is directed at anyone (including non-musicians) who studies the interdisciplinary field of acoustics.

The strength of the book in general is, as mentioned above, its thorough introduction to various problems in acoustics, but also its clear presentation with case studies and examples, and, last but not least, the very reasonable price. A few errors in the first edition (mainly misprints in text and some figures) will be eliminated with its second printing in 2001. The book's use by musicians, composers, recording artists, etc., is suggested because of its excellent introduction to basic concepts of acoustics. Regarding its mathematical approach, Raichel stated already in the preface that his text was written with the assumption that the users of this text "are sufficiently versed in mathematics up to and including the level of differential and partial differential equations, and that they have taken the sequence of undergraduate physics courses that satisfy engineering accreditation criteria." (p. ix) Daniel R. Raichel also urged that "laboratory experience be included in the course (or courses) in which this text is being used." (pp. ix-x) While the latter requirement is usually given for recording arts curricula, the former requirement might not always be met by many curricula with the main focus on music. But because of the necessity of setting higher standards for music courses and because of the necessity of a more interdisciplinary orientation in today's music curricula, the reviewer can only wish that this textbook would also find its way to more music oriented acoustics courses, as a book used in addition to one that is more specifically on musical acoustics.

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This review was originally published as: Nico Schüler: "Daniel R. Raichel: The Science and Applications of Acoustics," Computer Music Journal 25/4 (Winter 2001): 92-94.