Cymatics is the study of sound and vibration made visible, typically on the surface of a plate, diaphragm or membrane. Direct ocular viewing of vibrations involves exciting inorganic matter such as particulate matter, pastes (both magnetic and non magnetic) and liquids under the influence of sound, although recent research has extended the range of media to include organic matter and the range of viewing has been extended to include the light microscope.
The generic term for this field of science is the study of ‘modal phenomena, sounnamed ‘Cymatics’ by Hans Jenny, a Swiss medical doctor and a pioneer in this field. The word ‘Cymatics’ derives from the Greek ‘kuma’ meaning ‘billow’ or ‘wave,’ to describe the periodic effects that sound and vibration has on matter.
The apparatus employed can be simple, such as a Chladni Plate (a flat brass plate excited by a violin bow) or advanced such as the CymaScope, a laboratory instrument co-invented by English acoustics engineer, John Stuart Reid and American design engineer, Erik Larson, that makes visible the inherent geometries within sound and music.