Music Meets Science

New Zealand musician Nigel Stanford showcases a series of science experiments that demonstrate how sound waves affect different types of matter in his latest music video. Using various examples of cymatics (the science of visualising audio frequency Des – and coincidentally the title of the track), the video illustrates Stanford undertaking various experiments that represent each track with a different visualisation.

Created backwards, the music to the video directed by Shahir Daud was written afterwards. “I figured out what looked good, and then wrote the musical parts for each experiment,” explained Stanford. First up was the Chladni Plate, a thin metal surface that is covered with sand and attached to the top of a speaker. As different audio frequencies played on a keyboard resonate through the plate, the sand moves into patterns.

After testing different plate shapes, sand quantities and sounds – a square plate and four frequencies (657Hz, 1565Hz, 932Hz, 3592Hz) were chosen for the best-defined shapes. A petri dish filled with vodka is taped to a speaker that plays audio frequencies of 50Hz and 100Hz to form standing waves in the liquid.

Hooked up to a drum kit, a speaker has a hose pipe taped to the front. Water flowing from the pipe appears to momentarily freeze in a spiral when an audio frequency that matches the camera frame rate of 25hz passes through it. Magnetic ferro fluid poured into a tray ripples and spikes when three electromagnets underneath are switched on.

Tapping different notes on a keyboard turns on one, two or all of the magnets on in time with the music. Patterns of flames are created from a metal tube filled with flammable gas, again attached to a speaker. Different audio frequencies – 409Hz, 490Hz and 564Hz – form pressure waves in the gas, creating high and low flame shapes that burst from holes along the top of the tube.

To finish, Stanford kits himself out in a chain mail Faraday suit and continues to conduct the experiments while a high-voltage Tesla Coil generator shoots bolts of electricity at him. Cymatics is the first single taken from Stanford’s new album Solar Echoes.