Ron Pellegrino's Recommended Thought Food for Composers of

Sonic Music and Visual Music

Cymatics, a book by the Swiss physicist Hans Jenny, published by Basilius Presse AG, Basel in 1967, and currently available from Trans-Hyperborean Institute of Science.

The field of cymatics is the study of the structure and dynamics of waves and vibrations, the fundamental materials of music and of life forms. The study of cymatics should be included in the fundamental theoretical studies of anyone interested in sonic or visual music. Without waves, vibrations, and periodicity there is no movement, no sound, no music.

For an excellent overview of the subject of cymatics visit this page on Cymatics: The Science of the Future? with this link.

Han Jenny's book is filled with photographs of beautiful organic imagery (Chaldni figures) he created with sound waves (including some music of Bach and Mozart) driving metal plates and various diaphragms covered with lycopodium powder, liquids, metal filings, and viscous material. He used vibrating crystals so he could precisely control the frequencies and amplitudes of the signals creating the dynamic imagery for his studies.

The text of book makes the case for the principle of periodicity being the fundamentally dominant force in both the organic and inorganic world. "What insights into vibration and periodicity have been gained in the vast range extending from the cosmic systems (rotations, pulsations, turbulences, circulations, plasma oscillations, periodicity of many kinds in both details and the whole) down to the world of atomic or even nuclear physics (shell model of nucleus; nucleon structure; organization of meson clouds)! Here again, the idea of periodicity is all-embracing."

Cymatics is an excellent, thought-provoking theoretical source for anyone interested in the physical fundamentals of composition. Jenny created the image on the book's cover by driving a plate covered with viscous material.


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