Cymatics is the study of visible sound and vibration patterns and a subset of modal vibrational phenomena. As Collins dictionary says: the study of wave phenomena, esp sound, and their visual representations.
It explores how sound waves interact with different materials to create geometric patterns and shapes. The term “cymatics” was coined by the Swiss physician and natural scientist Hans Jenny in the 1960s, derived from the Greek word “kyma,” meaning “wave.” Or simply put it makes sound visible or better say it makes vibrations visible and each frequency of vibration has its own visible pattern.
The basic principle of cymatics is that when sound waves pass through a medium, such as water, sand, or a metal plate, they create distinct patterns that can be seen and studied. These patterns are formed due to the vibrations caused by the sound waves, which cause the medium to move in specific ways.
One of the earliest references even though both Darwin and da Vinci mention the change of patterns in dust when “hitting” it with a vibration to cymatics can be traced back to the work of Ernst Chladni, an 18th-century German physicist and musician. Chladni conducted experiments using a metal plate covered with a thin layer of sand. By drawing a bow along the edge of the plate, he caused it to vibrate, and the sand rearranged itself into intricate geometric patterns, known as Chladni figures. Chladni’s work demonstrated the visual representation of sound and laid the foundation for further exploration in the field of cymatics.
Hans Jenny expanded upon Chladni’s experiments and conducted extensive research on cymatics. In the 1960s, he published a book called “Cymatics: A Study of Wave Phenomena and Vibration,” which documented his findings. Jenny used various materials, including fluids, powders, and pastes, to visualize the effects of different sound frequencies and amplitudes on the medium.
To make sound visible most of the time there are two different kind of devices used. One the Chladni plate which is a metal plate with “dust” on it or a device that is essentially a bowl of water on top of a speaker with a camera. Especially with the last one the most beautiful images of specific frequencies are captured.
What is interesting is that when pure frequencies are played, the material used forms the most beautiful shapes that are based in geometry and can resemble nature, flowers and ancient symbols and patterns. Besides the the some what mystery that something (sound) invisible to the eye can become visible it is also this “beauty” and harmony effect that draws people into the study of cymatics.
The common theory behind a lot of sound healing practices comes from the fact that if pure frequencies form beautiful figures in water and create harmony it will therefor have a similar effect on our body and the planet. The same deduction explains why disorganised frequencies can make us feel uncomfortable.
An interesting addition on this topic and on how vibration becomes visible is the work of Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto where he shows the influence of our thoughts, words and feelings on molecules of water. Using high-speed photography, Dr. Masaru Emoto discovered that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts and words are directed toward them. He found that water from clear springs and water that has been exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colourful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts, forms incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colours.
The name Flower of Sound
The name Flower of Sound is inspired by Cymatics and the beautiful flower shapes sound can make. As Flower of Sound we want to let you experience the power of sound.
The books to read for more information about Cymatics:
- Jenny, H. (2001). Cymatics: A Study of Wave Phenomena and Vibration. Macromedia Press. You can read the book here: https://archive.org/details/hans-jenny-cymatics/page/113/mode/2up
- Chladni, E. F. F. (1787). Entdeckungen über die Theorie des Klanges. Breitkopf und Härtel. You can read the book here https://archive.org/details/entdeckungenuber00chla
- Masaru Emoto The Hidden Messages in Water This one you can order on all online bookshops