Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Geometry of Sound

My husband and I took my ten-year-old and his cousin
to the Boston Museum of Science over the weekend.
I took a lot of pictures,
but failed to take a picture of the thing that most captured me.

I came around a corner and saw (and heard) my husband using a bow
to stroke the side of a metal square with sand scattered over the top of it.
There was a round disk next to it for the same purpose.
I had no idea what he was doing, and stood and watched.
There was a video playing next to it, demonstrating what to do.
Basically, when you struck the right tone using the bow,
and the sound vibration was pure,
the sand formed a geometric pattern on the square.

Before my eyes I watched the chaos of the sand etch an x across the square.
Perfectly straight lines from corner to corner.
"Do the other one!" I said.
When the sound rang out, the sand obeyed it
and organized itself into six perfect spokes.

I have heard people talk about the relationship
between math and music and art before.
I'm not very mathematically-minded.
And I love and appreciate music, but am not at all a creator of it.
I like to dabble with different forms of art.
But the whole relationship between them had never been so clear in my mind.

I watched in wonder as the sound -- the tone  --
(dare I say 'the word'?) made music and math visible.
I don't understand it at all.
But it stuns me.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 
The earth was without form and void; 
and darkness was on the face of the deep. 
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 
Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light..." 
~Genesis 1

"For by Him all things were created 
that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, 
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. 
All things were created through Him and for Him. 
And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."
~Colossians 1:16,17

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, 
being understood by the things that are made, 
even His eternal power and Godhead, 
so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, 
they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, 
but became futile in their thoughts..."
~Romans 1:20,21

 You can watch a Youtube video of a cymatic experiment here.


Stephanie said...

Just now catching up with your blog. Josh will like this one :)

Steadfasthope said...

I thought of him when I was writing it.