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The Physics of Music



These patterns are made with nothing but sound. They are standing wave patterns or Chladni patterns, after the German physicist Ernst Chladni (1756–1827). Chladni used his violin bow to vibrate a metal plate with sand on it. he demonstrated that a pattern appears in sand when a surface is made to vibrate at certain resonances. A plate or membrane vibrating at resonance is divided into regions vibrating in opposite directions, bounded by lines of zero vibration called nodal lines. The sand is moved around the plate by the vibration and collects at the nodes
on the plate where there is no vibration. Different tones produce different patterns. The patterns that form are highly symmetrical and beautiful.
The Chladni patterns can also be created in three dimensions by vibrating liquids like water. By suspending particles in water the patterns become visible.


Image: Three dimensional wave patterns in water, created by sound vibrations. Cr. Dr H Jenny

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