JJC prof finishes late mentors book

JJC Physics professor Andrew C.H Morrison was called upon to finalize the legacy of the well-renowned scientist William Ralph Bennett Jr, recently releasing the text that comprises the scientist’s lifelong work shortly after Bennet’s passing (†).

After Bennett was laid to rest, the Chair of the Acoustical Society of America Musical Acoustics Technical Committee’s Andrew C. H. Morrison was called in by the family of Bennett to put a finishing touch on the unfinished book Bennett had dedicated a great deal of his life perfecting.

 Loving the work Bennett had already accomplished, Morrison was honored to take on the task and agreed to co-edit not only “Volume one”, but also “Volume two.” Morrison expressed, “Unfortunately William and I never got to meet in person, but from what I read in his rough draft and what was previously known about his legacy, I felt like I got a great insight on the scientist behind the science and what he intended to entail.”

Being that his area of research has, for many years, been in the physics of musical instruments, Morrison was not inept in the face of the challenge of attempting to explain how acoustic vibrations effect the overall sound of the instrument based on the kind of material the medium consists of.

As an undergraduate he worked on a project that determined if sound in a vibrating trombone bell is determined by the distinguished vibrations of air circulation ricocheted within different materials.

Currently at Joliet Junior College, he started a project for student to study the design of handmade Caribbean Steel Pan drums, and how the distinct shape of the notes pivot the vibration of the sound to create new tones of frequency.

Out of the 10 years it took to get “The Science of Sound, Volume I” published, Morrison dedicated five into making sure Bennett’s message was properly delivered to appeal to both musicians and scientists alike.

The book itself is compacted with the history of science in music and musical instruments. It covers how we could use the research to better understand how sound works.

The late Bennett Jr.’s life work was intended to incorporate a book that illustrated the science of making instruments and the sounds they produce stemmed from the many lectures he gave at Yale University throughout his 38 years as a physics professor. There, he spent his time educating a diverse audience of musicians and scientists, all in the same classroom.

The idea was to showcase the science that goes into making the sound produced by a large range of acoustic stringed instruments, pipe organs, and the study of human voice.  The book covers the oscillation, waves and the analysis techniques necessary for understanding the full aspect of how reverberations behave in a resonant environment.

As for the author, a wide appreciation for the Liberal Arts showed his interest in culture and bringing the world of science and art closer together as one single entity.

Bennett Jr is widely known for his pioneering work on gas lasers: he was the co-inventor of the Helium-Neon Laser at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey.  Aside from his pioneering in physics, Bennett’s expertise spanned the domain of sound implications and music.

Bennett also played the clarinet and piano with the caliber of a professional, so he was no beginner on how instruments resonate.

Previously under the wing of Professor Bennett, doctoral graduate Christy K. Holland wrote a forward to honor the late author and physicist for his astounding work is musical sound and teaching to many graduates at Yale University, who wished for this book to be published so that his story could be heard, and his vision to explore the sequence behind how sound is produced, perceived, and interpreted would be recognized for its significance in building a foundation for future musicians and scientist to increase their perception of music.

The overall intention of the style in which the science and math are presented are aimed to expand the knowledge of sound in the simplest way possible; just enough detail so that a sophomore in high school with a basic knowledge of physics or above could comprehend it.

Volume two by Andrew C. H. Morrison, with an early entree by William Ralph Bennett Jr, is expected to be released sometime in 2019. To sum the book up, the message is clear and the vision of “sound science” is limitless.


(†)  William Ralph Bennett Jr -Deceased 29 June 2008