Hello person,

As promised we wanted to share lots of new and exciting content with you, and so we’ve gone back to our roots.. back to my days of university, when the biggest concern was submission days.. and with that said we plan to revisit some of my own projects over the coming months and demonstrate the effects sound and vibration – also knows as ‘Cymatics’.

For those who are unfamiliar, Cymatics reveals a strange & beautiful symmetry at work in nature, where sound and vibration have physical effects on matter. The demonstrations I put together feature experiments based on research by physicists Hans Jenny & Ernst Chladni, pioneers in this field of study. I took on this project during my final year in university studying the Creative Sound & Music degree at USW, Newport Campus.

At the time I didn’t use social media or the original website created for this project, as I was young and this just seemed like another assignment. Looking back I realise that between the initial idea and my final submission, I had (with the help of my dad and good friends) actually built something pretty sweet..

So as you do during lockdown I wanted to revisit my old work and experiments to give them another go, but I also wanted to share some of the information on each experiment and the science behind them. Hopefully you all find the results as exciting as I did during the process and I can introduce you to a different way of thinking about sound.

See how it all started out below…

Cymatics: The Study of Modal Phenomena

A pretty sciency title if you ask me… but let me break it down for you.

I want to keep this as entertaining as possible so I’ll do my best to keep things simple, but you’d be surprised just how much planning and preparing went into building each experiment and then spending time documenting my findings. So let me take you back to to the very start, to a slightly younger version of myself..

I’d managed to get myself through two years at Crosskeys college on their brand new Foundation Diploma: Music Tech, eager to get a real sense of uni life I spoke to the tutors at Newport campus about transferring for my final year on the CSM course. Luckily i’d spent my second year in college collaborating with Kenny on his final major project of CSM so I already had a good idea of what to expect. My soon to be tutor Matt Evans fully embraced my ideas and I’d soon secured a place on the course. Given the sudden change at such a critical time I needed to be prepared to hit the ground running.

The What?

Cymatics is the way in which sound (vibration) has a physical affect on the everyday things around us, and to this day it still fascinates me just how intwined our relationship with sound is in basic human nature, which I’ll touch more on later.

There are plenty of great examples that you might know of; the doppler effect, high frequencies breaking glass or the infamously low frequencies setting off certainly bodily functions (brown note). But, my studies gave me the opportunity to delve much deeper into the reasons why sound can have these physical affects on us and the objects around us.

The beauty of writing this article is I can fast forward to give you a glimpse into exactly what I’m on about; In the picture what you can see is salt spread across a metal plater of my home built ‘Chladni Plate’… the shapes are caused by salt gathering when I expose the plate to different frequencies. As the plate vibrates in different directions, and at different speeds the grains of salt get trapped in the spaces between, these are known as ‘standing waves”. We will touch more on this later but first ill give you a little more on the assignment brief and the concept of what i set out to achieve.

Standing Wave – “Waves which appear to be vibrating vertically without traveling horizontally. Created from waves with identical frequency and amplitude, interfering with one another whilst traveling in opposite directions.”

The Why?

The degree had been divided into two modules; Live & Performance

Trying to combine elements from both modules;

Other than designing and building fully functional scientific experiments to help cover some of the criteria of the performance section, I planned out a demonstration of these experiments that could be presented to people of all ages. After bouncing some ideas around I found that using these experiments in Live Performance or for Educational purposes were the most beneficial.

Before I delve any further down the rabbit hole let me leave you with the video that was my main inspiration for the whole project. I hope you find it as amazing as I did the first time I saw it, there’s something about seeing raw elements interacting with sound. All be it this video contains a fair bit of post production it was the science behind each experiment that got me interested.

Until next time x