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3/6/2017 NaturalFrequency

NaturalFrequency
NaturalFrequency
ForcedVibration
StandingWavePatterns
FundamentalFrequencyandHarmonics

Ashasbeenpreviouslymentionedinthisunit,asoundwaveiscreatedasaresultofavibratingobject.
Thevibratingobjectisthesourceofthedisturbancethatmovesthroughthemedium.Thevibrating
objectthatcreatesthedisturbancecouldbethevocalcordsofaperson,thevibratingstringand
soundboardofaguitarorviolin,thevibratingtinesofatuningfork,orthevibratingdiaphragmofa
radiospeaker.Anyobjectthatvibrateswillcreateasound.Thesoundcouldbemusicaloritcouldbe
noisybutregardlessofitsquality,thesoundwaveiscreatedbyavibratingobject.
Nearlyallobjects,whenhitorstruckorpluckedorstrummedorsomehowdisturbed,willvibrate.Ifyou
dropameterstickorpencilonthefloor,itwillbegintovibrate.Ifyoupluckaguitarstring,itwillbegin
tovibrate.Ifyoublowoverthetopofapopbottle,theairinsidewillvibrate.Wheneachofthese
objectsvibrates,theytendtovibrateataparticularfrequencyorasetoffrequencies.Thefrequencyor
frequenciesatwhichanobjecttendstovibratewithwhenhit,struck,plucked,strummedorsomehow
disturbedisknownasthenaturalfrequencyoftheobject.Iftheamplitudesofthevibrationsare
largeenoughandifnaturalfrequencyiswithinthehumanfrequencyrange,thenthevibratingobject
willproducesoundwavesthatareaudible.
Allobjectshaveanaturalfrequencyorsetoffrequenciesatwhichtheyvibrate.Thequality
ortimbreofthesoundproducedbyavibratingobjectisdependentuponthenaturalfrequenciesofthe
soundwavesproducedbytheobjects.Someobjectstendtovibrateatasinglefrequencyandtheyare
oftensaidtoproduceapuretone.Aflutetendstovibrateatasinglefrequency,producingaverypure
tone.Otherobjectsvibrateandproducemorecomplexwaveswithasetoffrequenciesthathave
awholenumbermathematicalrelationshipbetweenthemthesearesaidtoproducearichsound.A
tubatendstovibrateatasetoffrequenciesthataremathematicallyrelatedbywholenumberratiosit
producesarichtone.Stillotherobjectswillvibrateatasetofmultiplefrequenciesthathavenosimple
mathematicalrelationshipbetweenthem.Theseobjectsarenotmusicalatallandthesoundsthatthey
createcouldbedescribedasnoise.Whenameterstickorpencilisdroppedonthefloor,itvibrateswith
anumberoffrequencies,producingacomplexsoundwavethatisclankyandnoisy.

FactorsAffectingtheNaturalFrequency
Theactualfrequencyatwhichanobjectwillvibrateatisdeterminedbyavarietyoffactors.Eachof
thesefactorswilleitheraffectthewavelengthorthespeedoftheobject.Since
frequency=speed/wavelength
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3/6/2017 NaturalFrequency

analterationineitherspeedorwavelengthwillresultinanalterationofthenaturalfrequency.Therole
ofamusicianistocontrolthesevariablesinordertoproduceagivenfrequencyfromtheinstrument
thatisbeingplayed.Consideraguitarasanexample.Therearesixstrings,eachhavingadifferent
lineardensity(thewiderstringsaremoredenseonapermeterbasis),adifferenttension(whichis
controllablebytheguitarist),andadifferentlength(alsocontrollablebytheguitarist).Thespeedat
whichwavesmovethroughthestringsisdependentuponthepropertiesofthemediuminthiscase
thetightness(tension)ofthestringandthelineardensityofthestrings.Changesintheseproperties
wouldaffectthenaturalfrequencyoftheparticularstring.Thevibratingportionofaparticularstring
canbe shortened bypressingthestringagainstoneofthefretsontheneckoftheguitar.This
modificationinthelengthofthestringwouldaffectthewavelengthofthewaveandinturnthenatural
frequencyatwhichaparticularstringvibratesat.Controllingthespeedandthewavelengthinthis
mannerallowsaguitaristtocontrolthenaturalfrequenciesofthevibratingobject(astring)andthus
producetheintendedmusicalsounds.Thesameprinciplescanbeappliedtoanystringinstrument
whetheritistheharp,harpsichord,violinorguitar.
Asanotherexample,considerthetrombonewithitslongcylindricaltubethatisbentuponitselftwice
andendsinaflaredend.Thetromboneisanexampleofawindinstrument.The tube ofanywind
instrumentactsasacontainerforavibratingaircolumn.Theairinsidethetubewillbesetintovibration
byavibratingreedorthevibrationsofamusician'slipsagainstamouthpiece.Whilethespeedofsound
waveswithintheaircolumnisnotalterablebythemusician(theycanonlybealteredbychangesin
roomtemperature),thelengthoftheaircolumnis.Foratrombone,thelengthisalteredbypushingthe
tubeoutwardawayfromthemouthpiecetolengthenitorpullingitintoshortenit.Thiscausesthe
lengthoftheaircolumntobechanged,andsubsequentlychangesthewavelengthofthewavesit
produces.Andofcourse,achangeinwavelengthwillresultinachangeinthefrequency.Sothenatural
frequencyofawindinstrumentsuchasthetromboneisdependentuponthelengthoftheaircolumnof
theinstrument.Thesameprinciplescanbeappliedtoanysimilarinstrument(tuba,flute,windchime,
organpipe,clarinet,orpopbottle)whosesoundisproducedbyvibrationsofairwithina tube .


Therewereavarietyofclassroomdemonstrations(someofwhicharefunandsomeof
whicharecorny)thatillustratetheideaofnaturalfrequenciesandtheirmodification.A
popbottlecanbepartlyfilledwithwater,leavingavolumeofairinsidethatiscapableof
vibrating.Whenapersonblowsoverthetopofthebottle,theairinsideissetinto
vibrationalmotionturbulenceabovethelipofthebottlecreatesdisturbanceswithinthe
bottle.Thesevibrationsresultinasoundwavethatisaudibletostudents.Ofcourse,the
frequencycanbemodifiedbyalteringthevolumeoftheaircolumn(addingorremoving
water),whichchangesthewavelengthandinturnthefrequency.Theprincipleissimilar
tothefrequencywavelengthrelationofaircolumnsasmallervolumeofairinsidethebottlemeansa
shorterwavelengthandahigherfrequency.
Atoiletpaperrollorchestracanbecreatedfromdifferentlengthsoftoiletpaperrolls(orwrappingpaper
rolls).Therollswillvibratewithdifferentfrequencieswhenstruckagainstastudent'shead.Aproperly
selectedsetofrollswillresultintheproductionofsoundsthatarecapableofaTonyAwardrenditionof
"MaryHadaLittleLamb."
MaybeyouarefamiliarwiththepopularwatergobletpromtrickthatisoftendemonstratedinaPhysics
class.Obtainawatergobletandcleanyourfingers.Thengentlyslideyourfinger
overtherimofthewatergoblet.Ifyouarefortunateenough,youmightbeableto
setthegobletintovibrationbymeansofslipstickfriction.(Itisnotnecessaryto
useacrystalgoblet.Itisoftensaidthatcrystalgobletsworkbetterbutthetrickis
justaseasilyperformedwithcleanfingersandaninexpensivegoblet.)Likeaviolin
bowstringbeingpulledacrossaviolinstring,thefingerstickstotheglass
molecules,pullingthemapartatagivenpointuntilthetensionbecomessogreat.
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Thefingerthenslipsofftheglassandsubsequentlyfindsanothermicroscopicsurfaceto stick tothe


fingerpullsthemoleculesatthatsurface,slipsandthensticksatanotherlocation.Thisprocessofstick
slipfrictionoccurringatahighfrequencyissufficienttosetthemoleculesoftheglassintovibrationat
itsnaturalfrequency.Theresultisenoughtoimpressyourdinnerguests.Tryitathome!!
Perhapsyouhaveseenapendulumbobvibratingbackandforthaboutitsequilibriumposition.Whilea
pendulumdoesnotproduceasoundwhenitoscillates,itdoesillustrateanimportantprinciple.A
pendulumconsistingofalongerstringvibrateswithalongerperiodandthusalowerfrequency.Once
more,thereisaninverserelationshipbetweenthelengthofthevibratingobjectandthenatural
frequencyatwhichtheobjectvibrates.Thisveryrelationshipcarriesovertoanyvibratinginstrument
whetheritisaguitarstring,axylophone,apopbottleinstrument,orakettledrum.

Toconclude,allobjectshaveanaturalfrequencyorsetoffrequenciesatwhichtheyvibratewhen
struck,plucked,strummedorsomehowdisturbed.Theactualfrequencyisdependentuponthe
propertiesofthematerialtheobjectismadeof(thisaffectsthespeedofthewave)andthelengthof
thematerial(thisaffectsthewavelengthofthewave).Itisthegoalofmusicianstofindinstruments
thatpossesstheabilitytovibratewithsetsoffrequenciesthataremusicallysounding(i.e.,
mathematicallyrelatedbysimplewholenumberratios)andtovarythelengthsand(ifpossible)
propertiestocreatethedesiredsounds

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