Title

Chladni Patterns on Drumheads: A “Physics of Music” Experiment

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-2011

Publication Title

The Physics Teacher

Department

Physics

Abstract

In our “Physics of Music” class for non?science majors, we have developed a laboratory exercise in which students experiment with Chladni sand patterns on drumheads. Chladni patterns provide a kinesthetic, visual, and entertaining way to illustrate standing waves on flat surfaces and are very helpful when making the transition from one?dimensional systems, such as string and wind instruments, to the two?dimensional membranes and plates of the percussion family. Although the sand patterns attributed to Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni1 (1756–1827) are often demonstrated for this purpose using metal plates,2–4 the use of drumheads offers several pedagogical and practical advantages in the lab.

ISSN

0031-921X