Bernard Teo Zhi Yi
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GEH1030 Review

Taken in AY21/22 Sem 1 under Prof Bernard Tan Tiong Gie. All classes were conducted online due to the pandemic.

Graded components:

Lectures cover a varied range of beginner sound and music topics, such as frequencies, waves, music scales, harmony, and the MIDI format. The physics topics will be revision for anyone who has taken a physics course at O-Level or equivalent, and the music topics will be revision for anyone who has studied music theory at even a beginner level. However, prior physics or music knowledge is definitely not necessary. Lecture slides are available, but they contain images of text (instead of text itself), presumably to prevent students from using Ctrl-F during the open book exams.

Tutorials are mainly focused on calculation questions. Tutorial lessons are really slow, and the answers to the tutorial questions are released after the tutorial, so it is possible to skip them.

The lectures contain lots of non-quantitative background about music. However, the midterm and final exams contain mostly quantitative questions (i.e. those that require you to perform some calculations to obtain a numerical answer), which are similar in style to the tutorials. The questions are more about physics than music, and they are all MCQ. Calculators are allowed, and the exams are open book (you can refer to course materials, either printed or on your computer). Keep track of the time when doing the exams — some questions may require lots of calculations, but avoid spending a disproportionate amount of time on them if you have not solved the easier questions yet. All questions has the same weightage, so do the easier questions before going on to the harder ones!

Students are also required to write an essay and a MIDI music composition during the semester. The essay is a personal reflection about a concert that the student needs to watch (possibly online, due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The concert must be at least 45 minutes long, and the essay must be between 200 and 800 words long. MIDI is a standard music file format that stores the notes that are played (instead of usual WAV or MP3 files that store the resultant waveforms), and it can be created on a computer (you do not need to be able to play your piece on a real musical instrument). The MIDI music composition must be an original piece that is between 20 and 60 seconds long. More details can be found on the official course webpage ( (use the Wayback Machine to see details from previous semesters).

Overall, this is an easy GE module, with no group work at all. Having prior experience in physics and music makes this module even easier. To me, this module was easier than GER1000, GES1019, and GET1001. Lectures and tutorials are generally slow, and you may consider skipping them. The MIDI music composition can be fun, if you are interested in trying your hand at composing music.