Cymatic equipment

Before commencing my research, I initially wanted to set some parameters to help focus my research by deciding on which type(s) of Cymatic or sound equipment and materials I wanted to use for experimentation. Some key factors that I considered would help guide me in my research for equipment include:

Suitability for working with desired media (i.e. wet and dry media) 

  • Simplistic in design 
  • Cost effective
  • Transportable / easy to setup etc
  • Ease of use
  • Accessibility of information, components and materials
  • Adaptability to using different sizes and supports
  • Health & Safety


The original Chladni experiments were carried out using a metal sheet suspended on a single point vibrated with a violin bow to create the resonance frequencies whereas Dr Jenny’s involved a vibrating membrane.

Many other experiments can be found online, however most revolved around using:

  • Chladni Plate – Flexible metal sheet with vibrating rod activated and connected to a speaker
  • Tonoscope – Stretched membrane over a speaker or audio tube 
  • Cymascope – Crucible type vessel to contain fluids suspended on a speaker. 
  • Amplification was also needed in the majority of cases. 

A starting point for the project is to set up a Chladni Plate similar to the one outlined by Harvard Natural Sciences Lecture Demonstrations (2018) followed by exploring alternatives or adjustments to the design to accommodate other options to work with both dry and wet media by adjusting or replacing the Chladni plate with other options, materials or identified supports.

Hence from this I gleaned that some must have items I would require included:

  • Speaker(s) or some form of sound output
  • Vibrating platform in the form of a flexible surface or membrane or container to hold fluids
  • Amplifier with connectors or leads or other means of amplifying sound
  • A method for generating sounds i.e. equipment, tool or app to generate and control the desired sounds to be generated.
  • A method for capturing or recording sounds used


Modified Fender Amplifier
Surface transducer


When it came to speakers, I initially decided to start with experimenting with two options as follows:

Fender Guitar Amplifier Speaker i.e. using the internal speaker of a Fender guitar amplifier. I modified this by removing the cover and using the speaker directly.

Surface Transducer which provides the ability to turn almost any surface into a speaker. It is essentially just a speaker except instead of a cone, the coil is attached to a pad that conducts the vibration into whatever it is pressed against. For more information see this link


Vibrating Platforms

In the case of the audio speakers it will be necessary to set up vibrating platform suspended above them similar to that of the Chladni experiments. It is intended to set up one with a flexible solid sheet for experimentation with dry media, the second with a container type platform for experimentation with wet media. 

In the case of the surface transducer this can be held against any firm or solid surface turning it into a speaker or vibrating platform. Hence can be applied to the back of a stretched canvas, stretched paper or textile surface e.g. using quilting or embroidery hoops of various sizes.

Stretched canvas in embroidery hoops
Cymascope app
Combined image capture of Oscilloscope (above) and Cymascope (below)

Generating Sounds & Frequencies

Another aspect of this research was deciding on what frequencies I wanted to use and how to generate them. Initially wanting to explore musical notes and cymatic frequencies I found two freely available solutions which include:

Online tone generator which can be used to generate different inputted types of frequencies including sine, square, sawtooth and triangle. 

Cymascope App which enables the visualisation and capture of the geometry of piano sounds using 440 & 432Hz making the music visible whilst also providing other useful features such as audio recording/playback and image capture. 

Other methods that I may consider experimenting with to create or generate sound in the future may include tuning forks, naturally occurring sounds, recordings of voice or music, musical instruments or anything that peaks my interest during this research project.

To record sound patterns visually I intend to use screen captures from both the Cymascope app and an Oscilliscope app by XYZ Apps available at:
Combined, these visual representations provide alternative views of the sound waves generated as well as a visual record of the wave patterns used and how they relate to musical notes.

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