Science of Sound: What is Sound


What is sound?

Watch the original video on YouTube:
License: Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)
Janet Coonce:


WARNING: Close your eyes at 3:38 if you do not wish to see what real vocal chords look like while singing and laughing. This video was designed to help you understand, “What is Sound?” (as part of Alan Alda’s challenge to explain sound to a 5th grader). At the end of the video, you SEE the LIGHT from the fireworks. Then, you HEAR the SOUNDS of the fireworks. This is because the speed of sound through cold air is nearly a million times SLOWER than the speed of LIGHT. When we talk about the speed of sound, we’re talking about how fast sound travels over a certain distance, like a mile or a kilometer. The actual speed of sound depends on the MATTER that it’s going through.

This video was co-created by Tennesee Tech University Chemistry Instructor Janet Gray Coonce and Tennessee Tech University graduate student Haley Snyder Curtis, with acting help from Mrs. Coonce’s family. Special thanks to the TTU STEM Lending library for equipment access, Dr. Grant Rohman for the vocal chord examination, and the two anonymous TTU music students who sang the “High Frequency”/ “Low Frequency” tune. Questions? Contact Janet Gray Coonce at


***PLEASE NOTE*** All information on this site is for educational and informational processes.  Any guidelines, tips or recommendations are considered general knowledge and we strongly encourage you to consult with a professional before installing, adjusting, or altering a car audio system


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