What music looks like: the magic of Chladni figures

A Chladni figureYou’re probably familiar with oscilloscopes, which make the wave patterns of sound and music visible. Far less well-known, however, are Chladni figures. Discovered at the beginning of the 19th century by Ernst Chladni, a German-born Hungarian physicist and musician, these patterns reflect vibrations on a flat surface like a metal plate or a drum head. Sprinkle fine grains of sand or salt on such a surface, and the grains will align into beautiful patterns that shift as the pitch changes. Continue reading →