When physical matter is vibrated with sound it adopts geometric formations that are an analog of sound in visual form. The effect has been noted for centuries and is described through Cymatics (from the Greek: κῦμα “wave”) - the study of visible stationary wave patterns induced by sound. Dr Hans Jenny coined this term for his seminal research in this area in the 60s and 70s, using a device of his own design - the ʻtonoscopeʼ.
Featured on TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory and QI, Cymatics is relatively widely known. Check out YouTube for the many videos of ‘table-top’ experiments where folk have hooked up a speaker to a tone generator and amplifier and made things vibrate. This Sunday morning workshop does much the same, introducing you to the various equipment, materials and techniques - all easily accessible and easy to configure - that will allow you to explore Cymatics for yourself.
We’ll supply and introduce you to a range of speakers and transducers; and mediums from non-newtonian liquids such as corn starch in water to fluids such as glycerol, oils and alcohol and solids such as fine glass and decorative beads and polystyrene bean bag filler - all which you can use to generate different Cymatic patterns. We’ll also provide components and materials such as metal and silicon dishes, acrylic disks and latex rubber to help you construct various types of Cymatic devices.
We’d like to you to bring along your own old speakers and amplifiers and turn your iOS and Android smartphones into flexible tone generators using cheap apps such as Signal Generator (69p at the Apple App Store).
By the end of the workshop we’ll have constructed an array of different Cymatic devices which we can activate en mass to make the Brighton Dome wobble!
Lewis Sykes is in the 3rd year of a PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research project, The Augmented Tonoscope, is a new hybrid analogue/digital audiovisualisation instrument. It makes sound ‘visible’ as physical patterns on the surface of it’s drum-skin, but also augments them with real-time computer animations generated from mathematically derived virtual models of natural oscillating and harmonic systems.