Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sand & Cymatics: The Patterns of Sound

Apparently, the video above has gone viral since it was posted a few days ago (according to an article found here), but I didn't see it till today (Thanks, Moo!). I've seen photographs of resonance patterns in the past - patterns which emerge when metal plates containing various substances are vibrated with sound frequencies - but, this video is pretty cool. So, for those of you who have an interest in pattern, form and structure - and my discussions of them, and/or their esoteric aspects - you might find this video illuminating.

Cymatics - the study of wave or modal phenomena - is a word that was coined by Hans Jenny in 1967. Regarding the discovery of the ability of sound frequencies to produce patterns, however, in the West, Galileo first mentions the phenomena in "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" in 1632. (Then again, in the Far East, the ancient Chinese had already developed sound-frequency toys!) Next in line came Robert Hooke, although it is through the repetitions of his experiments with sound, and the subsequent publication of "Discoveries in the Theory of Sound", that Ernst Chladni emerged as the name most identified with resonance imagery - specifically in the term "Chladni plates".

According to the Smithsonian page (linked to above): "Chladni patterns are still of scientific interest, although their analytical uses have been mostly replaced by other technologies. Today these figures are more likely to be produced by a virtual imaging program than by an actual vibrating plate."

Yeah, but I guess they never heard of Meara O'Reilly and her Chladni song, or, her work with Bjork... or, for that matter, the experiments of Alexander Lauterwasser!

For more cymatic info and images, try here and here.

Credit: The creator of the today's featured video is Brusspup at Illusions and Science.


  1. So COOL it hertz!!!!!!! boo hiss.....
    grin..couldn't resist.

    Cymantics are MOST intriguing.....makes one with they had a frequency generator..sigh....

    Neat post!

    1. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how a "virtual imaging program" reproduces these patterns...