Wind Chimes

Some years ago I was an advisor to a Science Olympiad team at a nearby high school. One team project was to build a musical instrument, that being wind chimes. Being interested in the physics of music, I decided to become more knowledgeable about wind chimes, more than would be needed to help on the project. 

The math turns out to be fascinating - the solution of a fourth-order differential equation.  The fundamental frequency varies as the inverse square of the length. Overtones are non-harmonic; i.e, not integer multiples of the fundamental like for most instruments. This math and its solutions apply not just to wind chimes, but also to instruments like the glockenspiel, marimba, and the metallophones (gangsa) of Balinese and Javanese gamelan. 

To see the note which I wrote about it, click here or see the file at the bottom of this page. 


There were a number of internet sites devoted to the subject; most of them seem to have disappeared. Here are two:

A very good book on the physics of music is 

Music, Physics and Engineering

Harry F. Olson

Dover Publications, New York, 1967 (second edition)




Updated September 23, 2015

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Peter E. Schmidt,
Sep 23, 2015, 10:46 AM
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