Invented by John Shore in 1711, the tuning fork was initially used by musicians. After Chladni’s studies of its vibrations, however, it was also extensively employed by acousticians, who praised the purity of its sound. Hermann von Helmholtz, especially, based his experiments with beats, combination tones, and simple tones on tuning forks attached to resonators that enhanced their suitability for experimentation.
This rack has 3 square and 3 circular brass plates of varying dimensions. It was used to demonstrate the effect of changes in the size and thickness of plates on both their tone and the Chladni figures that they produce. A plate that is the same size as the one next to it, but double the thickness, will produce a note twice as high, while a plate that is half the area of the one next to it, but double the thickness, will sound a note that is four times higher.
This set of resonance bars, each with its’ own resonator, can be used in an interesting demonstration. First, because the bars are physically identical, they both have the same resonant frequency. And that sound is strongly amplified by the wooden resonators on which the bars are mounted. In the demonstration, the two instruments are placed some distance apart and the first bar is struck sharply to make a tone. Because the two bars are identical, the second bar will respond to the sound of the first by making the same tone.
In 1894, Olaus Henrici (1840-1918) of London devised a harmonic analyzer for determining the fundamental and harmonic components of complex sound waves. It consists of multiple pulleys and glass spheres, called rolling-sphere integrators, connected to measuring dials. The image of a curve (for example, a phonodeik tracing of a sound wave) is placed under the device. The user moves a mechanical stylus along the curve’s path, tracing out the wave form.
This photograph shows a three-dimensional representation of sound using paper. The spectrum (frequencies from low to high) is represented by an arrangement of single strips of paper, with lower frequencies in the foreground. The changes in the spectrum over time are visible as variations in the profile of the paper strips, if read from left to right. Such paper models were used at the Technische Universität Berlin in the 1960s to represent the sounds of speech (phonetics) and music (acoustics).
The German scientist Ernst Chladni was one of the pioneers of experimental acoustics. His research on different kinds of vibrations served as the basis for the scientific understanding of sound that later emerged in the 19th century.
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