by Thomas Brady

I’m pretty sure this is an entire class I didn’t get to take in college (Acoustic Physics) in 12 minutes. She talks fast, and you can get a headache if you haven’t had enough coffee before watching, but man does Vi Hart know how to teach math.

This video answers a ton of questions I have always wondered about, including the one that’s confused me most. I’ve always wondered how a playback device from the phonograph to the iPod can reproduce such a wide array of sounds, from the human voice to a synthesizer that was JUST invented.

The answer is, all sounds, and every nuanced difference in timbre, is reflected in the ratio of overtones. The different between even the “ahh” sound and “oh” sounds made by the human voice can be mimicked this way.