The Science of Sound

March 25, 2014
How often do you listen to your favorite song and think about the physics behind it? Chances are, you never really gave the sound waves involved a thought. But while many students don’t make an instant connection between music and physics, Katie Gordon ’17 considers it a pitch-perfect combination.

Originally from Cranford, N.J., Gordon came to Washington College to take advantage of the diverse liberal arts and sciences education offered here, and to blend the two things she loves the most: physics and music. Ultimately, she hopes to work with sound waves, vibrations, and improving the quality of acoustic and recording equipment. Sound waves give off frequencies, and those frequencies determine the sound’s pitch. Each sound has a different frequency, and the waves can be dampened—to soundproof an area—or they can reverberate to improve the acoustics of an environment. Through Gordon’s courses, she is learning how to connect the science of sound to the music she loves. 

When asked about her favorite part of Washington College, Gordon cites her ability to step outside a fixed curriculum.

“I can take these two majors and do whatever I want with them; at most universities you have a rigorous schedule you have to follow, but here, with the liberal arts education, you can do what you want.”

Like so many students, she also loves the small environment and sense of community the College creates.

“I like being able to know the vast majority of the people here because everyone has something different and unique to offer our small, tightly knit community.”

Adjusting to college was easy for Gordon. As the oldest of five children, she was ready to leave and “do her own thing.” In addition to being involved in multiple academic departments, Gordon is also active in a number of campus organizations. In just her second semester of college, she is already the Student Events Board (SEB) director for off-campus events, a member of the Chamber Singers, and a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi.

After graduation, Gordon plans to attend graduate school and is considering a degree in musical engineering. Hoping to invent new technologies, she already has a few ideas in mind. Growing up, Gordon loved to sing around her house but was always asked to stop because she’d carry on all day otherwise. Knowing she isn’t the first to have that problem,  Gordon hopes to create a portable recording studio so that people can have “a soundproof environment to sing and record in the comfort of their own home.”

—Zoë Schneider ’15


Last modified on Apr. 7th, 2014 at 12:29pm by .