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How Our Instruments Work

Recorder: Recorders creates sound by splitting and vibrating the air in a tube. By covering holes on the
tube it changes the wavelength and note it creates. This change is not linear like in most instruments so
there is no equation such as the length of tube is a quarter of the note created like in most wind
instruments. To start I played around with a normal recorder then took it apart. A recorder mouthpiece is a
whistle. From there I tried to make my a whistle out of wood. That did not work out so I decided to use
the top piece of the recorder instead. I then got a piece of pvc pipe and drilled holes into it. I attached the
mouthpiece to the pipe and tested it. I had to try at least four other hole arrangements to get the right
notes. Below is a picture showing the wavelengths of the notes and the distances between the mouthpiece

and hole. There is also ratios between the hole distances and the notes they created.
The highlighted parts are the ratios between hole distance and actual wavelength of the note. The numbers
are not consistent. In some in instruments there is a set ratio like a string can create a note that has a
wavelength that is twice as long as string. However the distance of the holes do not match up with their

wavelengths. The ratios are between 0.3 to 0.5. All the ratios differ even within the same set. So
statements like the hole distance length is 0.4 of wavelength of the desired note can not be made. Most
wind instruments hole distance lengths are a quarter or 0.25 of the notes wave length. The recorder does
not share this similarity with wind instruments.

Chimes: The sound created by the chimes is because of the vibration of the chimes. We were
tasked to build three musical instruments, and I was assigned to build the chimes. Chimes are
typically metal pipes that either hit each other or are hit by some sort of pipe or mallet, causing
them to make sound through their vibration. Every material has its own natural frequency, which
makes them vibrate differently. To find the right note, it takes a little bit of trial and error, since it
is hard to know the natural frequency of objects and then use that to find the right note. Once I
had found the note I wanted, I used a website that had all the ratios between the chime lengths
and notes, so all I
had to do was
multiply the length
of the chime I had
by the ratio to get
another chime with a
different note. Then,
I cut all the pipes to
the desired length,
and suspended them
using screws and
rubber bands. Now,

when the chimes are hit, they vibrate and create different notes. When the chimes are hit, they
vibrate. Sound is a vibration, so when objects vibrate they create sound. There are different notes
because different lengths of pipe will create different wavelengths, which means different notes.
The shorter the pipe, the higher the note. This is because longer pipes are able to create longer
wavelengths because there is more pipe that is vibrating. Longer wavelengths create deeper
notes. The vibration of the chime creates compressions and rarefactions in the air, which is how
the sound travels to the listener, since sound is a compression wave. In conclusion, when the
chimes are hit, they vibrate and produce sound because sound is a vibration.


Wavelength (cm)

Frequency (Hz)

Length of Pipe (cm)


131.87 cm

261.63 Hz

35.30 cm


117.48 cm

293.66 Hz

33.30 cm


104.66 cm

329.63 Hz

31.60 cm


98.79 cm

349.23 Hz

30.60 cm


88.01 cm

392.00 Hz

28.80 cm



440.00 Hz

27.30 cm


69.85 cm

493.88 Hz

25.80 cm


65.93 cm

523.25 Hz

24.90 cm

Electric Bass: Typically, most string instruments such as a guitar or a bass rely on the vibrations
produced by plucking the string to generate the noise. For our specific bass, we decided to make it electric
by adding a pickup to it to amplify the sound instead of going for an acoustic guitar or bass. The way that
the pickup works is that it consists of a coil of copper wire wrapped around screws approximately 9000 to
18000 times, and magnets are placed on top of the pickup, creating its own electromagnetic field near the
bass strings. When Ashok plucks the string, it vibrates within the pickups electromagnetic field, and the

disturbance creates a vibrating current within the copper coils of the pickup. This current is sent to the
amp, via the jack, as electrical energy, and allows the amplifier to increase the volume and clarity of the
bass string by a large amount. As for the way that we generate the different notes with the bass, if the
lengths of the string is changed or if the tension of the string is changed, then a vibration of a different
frequency is produced. Along with these factors, there is a third factor that determines the wavelength of
the note produced, and that it the thickness of the string and the material that you are using as your
strings. For example, a thin fishing line will produce a much higher note than the note produced by a thick
copper-halfwound string, and this is mainly because the thicker strings tend to have more mass and
vibrate much slower, producing a lower, deeper note, and each material has its own natural frequency,
with metal tending to have a lower natural frequency. When a musician plays the guitar, they press down
at certain points along the known as the frets, and when they do so, they are decreasing the distance over
which the string can vibrate, thereby increasing the frequency of the sound produced and changing the
note. The length of our strings were all the same, being 32, so instead of having our open notes be
determined by length, we made different open notes by varying the tension of the string and the thickness
of the material. Our thickest string produces an open note of E 1, then the next is A2, then D3, and finally
G4. If we had used the same material and the same tension, then we would have changed the lengths of
each string since the length of the string is half of the wavelength of a specific note. The reason for this is
because the length of the entire string is only moving up or down at one given point, so essentially, the
entire string has to go up then down to complete one wave, which is why the length of the string is almost
always half of the wavelength. Our electric bass doesnt follow this rule, because our variables are string
tension and thickness. This allows us to hit the lower notes without having an incredibly long string. The
looser and thicker the string, the lower the note. This is a table showing the wavelengths and frequencies
of all the notes.


Wavelength (cm)

Frequency (Hz)

String Length (cm)


837.31 cm

41.20 Hz

81 cm


313.64 cm

110.00 Hz

81 cm


234.96 cm

146.83 Hz

81 cm


88.01 cm

392.00 Hz

81 cm