Sympathetic Resonance

After Friday’s crit, 2 types of devices were suggested. One was an annunciator / recorder that could also be multiplied.  The other was a device that would cause repetitive vibrations along a surface, like a motor with a rope.  I’m still not too certain with my exact device, but I know I am interested and was directed towards a more creative side about the immaterial phenomenon of vibrations.

At the end of the day, I still didn’t have a scientist to look at, but was just focused towards vibrations, but I felt the urge to find someone, so I started with Helmholtz.  What made me first fascinated in his work was by the way he was able to graphically represent vibrations through the vibration microscope.

Then I was able to find a few of his experiments based on sympathetic resonance.  The first was based on the resonance piano strings.  If one was to press the key of a note, but not play it, that string is free from any dampers.  After, if one would play a note that is of the corresponding pitch (or pitches) loud enough, that free string will be able to resonate to the note that was just played.

Another experiment I came across is the tuning fork resonance box.  This is very much the same concept as the piano strings.  However, this time the tuning fork resonance box can point to sound to a specific direction so even across a room, with another box of the same frequency, one box is able to put the other in resonance purely by the vibration of sound.

But I wanted to see and hear this to another level of intensity…I did not only wanted to see motion through matching frequencies, but more of an explosive action: the breaking of wine glass through the resonance of sound.  And through MythBusters, it is confirmed to be true.

The fact that resonance can be produced and reproduced in so many ways and the power it has to put objects into motion is truly amazing. How I apply this to a device, I don’t know yet, but this is one method that draws me back to the first device of the annunciator / recorder.


Helmholtz, Hermann von, and Ellis, Alexander John. On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1885

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