Cymatics – Visually Exposing the Vibrations of Sound

Cymatics – Visually Exposing the Vibrations of Sound


Cymatics is the study of seeing sounds. Sounds may have been visualized as far back as 1000 years ago in Africa when hide drums would accumulate sand revealing geometric patterns when they were played. Today sound frequency visualization experiments are done using all different mediums. The image below is a sound snapshot of Beethoven’s 9th symphony translated into light.

According to John Stuart Reid, ancient Egypt may have had vast knowledge on the subject of sound resonance. Reid is an acoustics engineer and expert in cymatics or modal phenomena. Inside of the Great Pyramid of Giza, Reid performed a simple experiment in the King’s Chamber. A “glissando” is a musical term that means gliding smoothly from one pitch to another. So using his vocal range, Reid laid inside of the sarcophagus and sang a glissando. The King’s Chamber revealed a very strong resonance vibration which indicated that the ancient Egyptians may have known quite a bit about sonic resonance. It is this sonic vibration that can be used to reveal specific geometric patterns on a sandy drum.Every day more and more scientists, artists, and everyday people are using and experimenting with cymatics and proving that sound indeed can move matter. If you’re interested in cymatics and would like to learn more, we’ve compiled the following must see videos to get you started:

• Watch the video below if you’d like to see the effect sound frequency has on water. The reverse effect is crazy!

• Artist Nigel Stanford’s music video beautifully displays his work with sound resonance using sand, fire, water, and electricity. These displays are visually stunning and definitely worth a watch!• Artist Jodina Meehan uses a violin bow to play a handheld cymatics plate. This visual display of sound is used by violin bow makers for testing purposes.• Two Students at George Mason University experiment with putting fire out using sound waves.• Evan Grant discusses and demonstrates cymatics in this eye opening TED talk.• And lastly, here’s a talk that acoustics engineer John Stuart Reid gave about his experiments with resonance inside of the King’s Chamber at Giza in Egypt.