The Geometry of Sound Waves Visualized

Turn down your speak­ers …  but not all of the way off. Now see what sound waves look like when they’re visu­al­ized and the geo­met­ric pat­terns they make. They’re called Chlad­ni pat­terns, and they get their name from Ernst Chlad­ni (1756–1827), a Ger­man physi­cist and musi­cian whose work earned him the title, “The Father of Acoustics.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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Mag­net­ic Fields Made Vis­i­ble

Futur­ist Arthur C. Clarke on Mandelbrot’s Frac­tals

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Comments (4)
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  • Mary Lark Corbett says:

    In this video, the geo­met­ric pat­terns changed as the pitch was raised. What about the con­sid­er­a­tion of dif­fer­ent instru­ments in an orches­tra., each one hav­ing their own sound vibra­tion pat­tern. Why not com­pare pat­terns made with dif­fer­ent instru­ments? And again, what about the pat­terns made when a par­tic­u­lar rhythm is employed, a par­tic­u­lar melody, or even when instru­ments are play­ing simul­ta­ne­ous­ly in har­mo­ny? I think deaf peo­ple should be able to visu­al­ly enjoy, for exam­ple, Beethoven’s Fifth Sym­pho­ny. Con­sid­er the pri­ma­ry, sec­ondary, and ter­tiary col­ors each cor­re­spond­ing to the notes in suc­ces­sion from mid­dle C to High C. As you go up the octaves, the col­ors would be a pro­por­tianate degree lighter in col­or. As you go down the low­er octaves, the col­ors would dark­en in inten­si­ty. The geo­met­ric pat­terns when per­ceived by the view­er could appear to draw clos­er to you with the increase in vol­ume, and recede as the vol­ume decreas­es. Perhaps,textures dig­i­tal­ly imposed on the pat­terns could rep­re­sent the dif­fer­ent moods of the mel­lody e.g., rocky ver­sus satiny etc.Various rhythm would nat­u­ral­ly be employed by the method shown above in this video, or per­haps enhanced by fur­ther exper­i­ments. Col­or is an impor­tant part to aid in the beau­ty of the expe­ri­ence. Per­haps even a #-D quilt could be made to gre­o­met­ri­cal­ly rep­re­sent a par­tic­u­lar song! God bless all you physics/music majors. :>)

  • Mary Lark Corbett says:

    I meant to say 3‑D quilt, and geo­met­ri­cal­ly.

  • Mary Lark Corbett says:

    melody not mel­lody. Lousy typ­ist I am.

  • Mary Lark Corbett says:

    pro­por­tion­ate, not pro­por­tianate. Okay, I quit. YOU edit the thing!

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