Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Decrypting the frozen music of Rosslyn Chapel

Too cool. Cymatics in action. Reminds me of the exploratorium, the exhibit where you pour sand on the thin metal plate, then run a violin bow (or saw) across the side, and make pretty patterns from the sand vibrations.

"A father and son who became fascinated by symbols carved into the chapel's arches say they have deciphered a musical score encrypted in them. Thomas Mitchell, a 75-year-old musician and ex-Royal Air Force code breaker, and his composer and pianist son Stuart, described the piece as "frozen music."

Stuart Mitchell said he and his father were intrigued by 13 intricately carved angel musicians on the arches of the chapel and by 213 carved cubes depicting geometric-type patterns.

Years of research led the Mitchells to an ancient musical system called cymatics, or Chladni patterns, which are formed by sound waves at specific pitches.
The two men matched each of the patterns on the carved cubes to a Chladni pitch, and were able finally to unlock the melody."


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