Acoustical and Electrical Myths

This page is here in a small attempt to dispel some of the myths that I've heard from various people concerning things like concert hall or instrument acoustics or various electrical miracles. I get these things from musicians or stereo sales people or from eavesdropping on fellow audience members at concerts. Please email me at with any others that you know of.

Flutes made of silver (or gold or platinum or inert uranium oxide....) sound better. (Similar beliefs are held for various woods and their use in clarinets, oboes, bassoons and recorders....)

This is a difficult one to convince people of, since it is such a widespread belief. In most cases, it is not particularly dangerous - gold flutes certainly look prettier.... Although there would be fewer flutists going to massage therapists and chiropractors if the instrument were made of titanium.... The biggest problem incurred by this myth is in the continual use of endangered woods for instruments when we could be using composite materials to substitute.

See the March, 1998 issue of Scientific American for a short article on this subject called "Unsound Reasoning."

High frequencies carry better (or further) at higher altitudes
I heard this one from a conductor at The Banff Centre for the Arts one summer. It was used to explain why the ensemble was having balance difficulties..... I still can't figure out why someone would even think this to begin with..... But if anyone can come up with an explanation, I'd love to hear it...

One possible tongue-in-cheek explanation emailed from António Henriques :

"One thing pops in my head: if the wavelength is shorter the higher altitude at which the sound is, the better chances it has to find no barriers...

"If you go too high in your rocket-ship you will hear no frequencies at all..."

See more myths and realities here - including exciting details about egg cartons!!