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Local Band Charged Particles Performs Music and Teaches About the Science Behind Sound

The music of the three-man band Charged Particles is silky, jazzy, lively and tempts one to get up and dance as if no one’s watching. People of all ages came to see this band perform and learn about the science behind the sounds that instruments make at Northside Library’s Oct. 15 program Charged Particles: Science of Sound.

“We have a community that loves math, science and music and I wanted to fuse all these things together in a program,” says Cheryl Lee, branch manager and program coordinator of Northside Library.

“‘Charged Particles’ is the name of a song by Chick Corea; he’s a big inspiration for us and that song title seemed to capture what we’re trying to do with the band,” says Jon Krosnick, drummer for Charged Particles. “Two of us band members teach at Stanford. We are educators. When we do performances for children, we often do educational workshops where we teach about different jazz rhythms and how melody and harmony come together to create each jazz song.”


Sharing that today’s lesson on science and math is a first for the band, Krosnick gives a scientific explanation behind how a drum forms sounds.

“Every time I hit a drum, I am creating a wave pattern,” Krosnick says. “So a drum is just a tube. Because there’s a sheet of plastic at the top and bottom, it creates a column of air. When I hit one of those sheets of plastic, the air in the column vibrates back and forth at a particular speed. The speed is determined by the length of the column and the tightness of the plastic. For kids who are interested in physics, this idea will help them understand how sound is generated through an acoustic process.”

Dispelling the notion that one must be able to hear to make or experience music, Krosnick talks about a percussionist named Evelyn Glennie.

“Evelyn Glennie is one of the most significant classical musicians alive today and she’s deaf,” he says. “You might wonder how someone might be such a successful musician and not be able to hear music. She describes that she is able to feel vibrations on the floor. She plays with no shoes or socks. She can experience music in that way.”

When Krosnick was in high school, he was passionate about math, science and music.

“I was very torn about whether to do a career in science or a career in music,” he says. “I ended up doing both. I’m a professor at Stanford where I’m a scientist in the Communications Department and I have a second career as a musician as a drummer for Charged Particles and other groups.”

Visit for more information about the band.


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