12 Piano notes made visible for the first time
Shannon Novak, a New Zealand-born fine artist, commissioned us to image 12 piano notes as inspiration for a series of 12 musical canvases. We decided to image the notes in video mode because when we observed the ‘A1′ note we discovered, surprisingly, that the energy envelope changes over time as the string’s harmonics mix in the piano’s wooden bridge. Instead of the envelope being fairly stable, as we had imagined, the harmonics actually cause the CymaGlyphs to be wonderfully dynamic. Our ears can easily detect the changes in the harmonics and the CymaScope now reveals them–probably a first in acoustic physics.
Capturing the dynamics was only possible with HD video but taming the dynamics of the piano’s first strike, followed by the short plateau and long decay phase, was tricky. We achieved the result with the help of a professional audio compressor operating in real time.
Shannon was delighted with the results. He commented:
“I have always been fascinated with the translation of that which is invisible, into something visible that individuals can relate to, in particular, the representation of sound through colour and geometric form. I saw the use of cymatic technology as one method of such representation and a unique and compelling way of educating individuals about the link between sound, colour, and geometric form”.
Piano notes made visible on the CymaScope
For the first time in history individual piano notes have been made visible using the CymaScope instrument. The piano notes were painstakingly recorded by Evy King and then fed into the CymaScope one by one and the results recorded in high definition video.