Arkansas PBS > Engage > Blog > “Blueberry’s Clubhouse” — The Glockenspiel, Music and the Science of Sound

“Blueberry’s Clubhouse” — The Glockenspiel, Music and the Science of Sound

  • Posted by
  • Arkansas PBS
  • on

In “Blueberry’s Clubhouse: End of Summer Jamboree” friends from the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub introduced Max and Blueberry to the glockenspiel and helped Max create a unique sound. Dive deeper into the art and science behind its sound now!

The Parts of a Glockenspiel

What is a glockenspiel? Similar to its cousin, the xylophone, a glockenspiel is a musical instrument that has a set of bars mounted to a frame which are then struck with small mallets to produce sounds. While the xylophone’s bars are made of wood, glockenspiels have metal bars.

Blueberry and Max’s instrument has bars made from plastic, ceramic clay, and metal. Which ones do you think will sound the best?

Color the parts of the glockenspiel. What kind of material would you use to make a bar? What kind of sound do you think it would make?


The Science of Sounds

Some sounds are soft and comfortable to hear — like rain or chimes blowing in the wind or waves at the beach. But some sounds aren’t pleasant — like the sound of an alarm or a barking dog. Ever wonder why?

Scientists have found three main reasons why the noises we hear either sound good or bad to most humans — amplitude, frequency, and timbre.

Amplitude is the measure of how loud something is while frequency, also called pitch, measures how high or low the sound is—like the difference between a whistle and thunder.  Timbre is the quality of a sound. It’s what makes one voice or instrument sound different from another. Most humans think that softer, lower sounds feel pleasant while loud, high-pitched sounds are uncomfortable.

What is your favorite sound? Can you name sounds that are pleasant or uncomfortable? Which ones do you like?

Noise vs. Music

Noise is unorganized sound. It’s like a messy room. Noisy sounds are messy, too. Some noisy sounds are the drone of a vacuum cleaner, the buzz rumble of a garbage disposal, the crack of thunder, or static on the radio. You know what they sound like, but you wouldn’t want to dance to them!

Music is just the opposite—it’s organized! When sounds are structured, they have a beat, a steady pulse like the beat of your heart or the tick-tick-tick of a clock. If you listen to music and start tapping your feet, that’s the beat! The rhythm is a pattern of sounds played over the beat. If you are singing along with a song, you’re actually singing the rhythm!

Experience beats by practicing with our snaps and claps worksheet. Follow along with each row, repeating it three times. Which row sounds the best to you? Now, experiment with your own beats!

Snap and clap rhythm

The Many Styles of Music

As humans, music has always been a part of our lives — no matter when or where we live. Today, there are many different styles of music: Pop, Country & Western, Rock n’ Roll, Swing, Jazz, Blues, HipHop, Rap, Big Band, Classical, Polka, and so much more!

Which ones have you heard — and what are your favorites?