Sound art shows you what musical notes actually look like

All images: Jeff Louviere and Vanessa Brown

All images: Jeff Louviere and Vanessa Brown

Sound is a sort of fleeting phenomenon, existing as vibrations travel through the air. These vibrations also present distinct patterns, depending on the frequency, which can be visualized by diffusing a fine dust on a surface. vibrating plate. This was the inspiration for Resonance, an album whose catalog features photographs that capture these distinctive patterns for the 12 musical notes.

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The technical term is cymatic (from the Greek word for “wave”), and it has been an active field of study, especially in acoustics, since at least the time of Galileo. In 1680, Robert Hooke first saw these so-called “nodal patterns” when he arched glass plates to induce vibrations. But it was Ernst Chladni who perfected the technique in 1787, which is why the patterns are known as “figures of Chladni”.

There is a certain amount of pseudo-scientific nonsense associated with the Chladni figures thanks to the work of Hans Jenny in the 1960s, who believed they were manifestations of an otherwise invisible “vibrational energy”. But it is undeniable that the beauty of such figures and their connection with music make perfect sense. Maybe that’s why the characters have inspired quite a few artists in recent years, like Jack White, including the video for “High Ball Stepper” features Chladni patterns created by music:

Add Jeff Louviere and Vanessa Brown, the brains behind Resonance, to this list. Struck by the fact that each note produced a distinct shape in a liquid medium, they decided to use photography as a form of sound sculpture to capture these patterns. “We translate a time-based sound medium and contrast it with the spatial form of the photograph,” they said. write on their site. “Everything you see is sound. All you hear is a photograph.

Louvière used a frequency generator on her laptop, a guitar tuner, and an old amplifier, placed directly under a plastic plate. Then like Heather Sparks written to Nautilus:

Louvière made the water vibrate with the amplifier by adjusting the frequency of the generator. In doing so, he used his tuner to find the frequency of each of the 12 notes — A, B, C through G, plus the five semitones. While Louvière operated the buttons, Brown stood on a ladder above the water-illuminating craft with a ring light, camera in hand. When the tuner recorded a note – reading 220 hertz, the frequency that produces an A, for example – Louvière stopped adjusting. As the unique vibration of each note induces its characteristic pattern in the water, Brown captured it with his camera. The duo worked together to achieve a “portrait” of each of the 12 notes.

In each, Louvière and Brown saw a distinct picture: G looks like a devil, C # is the tree in the Garden of Eden, and F is something like the belly of a frog. If you were to repeat this experiment, you would get the same designs.

But Louvière did not stop there. He also used a program called Photo Sounder to digitize the resulting 12 images and turn them back into sound. He mixed the 12 sound files into the final “soundscape”. As for the images themselves, they constitute a dazzling artistic spectacle.

« Les vues peuvent être vues et les images peuvent être entendues. »  Gamme complète de motifs cymatiques créés par Jeff Louviere et Vanessa Brown.

“Sights can be seen and images can be heard. »Complete line of cymatic patterns created by Jeff Louviere and Vanessa Brown.

F looks like the belly of a frog.

F looks like the belly of a frog.

[[[[So romantic facts]

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