This book is a thorough overview of physics behind music. In the first part of the book, Hall lays the foundation with an investigation into waves, sound propagation, sound measurement, and the human ear. The middle third of the book takes up families of instruments, and how they work to create musical sounds. The last part of the book investigates room acoustics, sound reproduction, and the perception of intervals, tunings, and musical structure. Each chapter includes references and suggestions for further reading, numerous mathematical exercises for practicing the concepts covered in the chapter, and a list of potential projects for further investigation. The book includes a glossary and answers to selected problems, as well as an index.
I read quite a few textbooks for work and occasionally just for interest's sake, but this one really stands out. After reading the first few chapters, I found myself wishing I could sit in on Hall's lectures. His style is intensely personal, and his explanations are incredibly clear. I'll admit that sometimes my eyes glossed over while slogging through some of the numbers and charts, but it was mainly my fault for not being a more active reader. In order to get the most from this book, you really need to read it with calculator in hand, or better yet, an Excel spreadsheet open, ready to try out the numbers and scenarios that Hall provides us with. Nevertheless, the math is kept quite simple- -no calculus; if you can do algebra, you should be able to get through the book.
I've found the information in the book to be quite useful. Hall's description of how resonance works in drums has helped me make sense of my tabla teacher's pickiness about where my fingers strike the tabla heads. And at last I understand the physics behind why some rooms in my house are acoustically dead, and others are alive. Hall has opened up a new world of ideas for me, and I will be thinking them through for years to come. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know how music really works.