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Instruments

Wind: Our PVC flute is able to play seven different notes because vibrating air is forced out in
different areas creating different notes. We measured the holes at different lengths to play the
notes C, D, E, F, A, and B. The air in the flute vibrates and the energy is radiated as sound and
forced out any of the open holes. The energy lost is replaced by the flute player breathing into
the larger hole, which goes into the flute. The column of air inside the flute vibrates more easily
at some frequencies than others, which determines the playing frequency and pitch. A different
combination of covered holes creates a different pitch. The more fingers you place over the
holes, the lower the notes will be. The less amount of holes covered, the higher the notes will
be. This is because, the air will have to travel further to escape when there are more holes
covered. The farther it has to travel, the lower it will sound and the longer wavelength it will
have. To find the length of the hole from the mouthpiece we divided the original wavelength of
the note by 4 (L = W/4). We knew to divide by 4, because a wind instrument only has ¼ of a
whole wavelength. In other words, there are three areas of pressure: high, low, and equilibrium.
When you blow into a pipe, your lips create high pressure. Wherever there is a hole, air enters
the tube at neutral pressure and neutralizes it to equilibrium. The area from high pressure to
equilibrium only makes up a quarter of a wave, so to find the length to the hole, we divide the
original note into quarters.

Flute Note

Wavelength (¼)

Length From Mouthpiece
(cm)

C4

132 cm x ¼

33cm

D4

117.5 cm x ¼

30cm

E4

105 cm x ¼

26cm

F4

99 cm x ¼

24.75cm

G4

88 cm x ¼

22cm

A4

78 cm x ¼

20cm

B4

70 cm x ¼

18cm

Chimes: The shorter the chime, the higher the natural frequency. Each individual chime is able
to play a different note. This is because of the natural frequency of the material, which is
determined by the diameter, the length, and the size. Short and narrow chimes create a higher
sound than long and wide because they vibrate quicker. Harder materials produce a clearer
sounds, because they vibrate faster. Unlike most instruments, the chimes are completely
independent of vibrations of the air within the tube. The vibrations travel the length of the tube,
producing sound waves. The longer the length of the tube, the lower the natural frequency. Our
chimes are short and narrow, so they produce a higher sound. We hung our chimes so they can
resonate freely and produce a clear sound. We found the lengths of our chimes by using the
ratio 1/(length)2 . We cut and tuned our first chime and then used the ratio to find the other
lengths because the frequencies are proportional to the lengths.

Chime Number

Length (cm)

1

20.6 cm

2

19.4 cm

3

18.4 cm

4

17.8 cm

5

16.8 cm

6

16 cm

7

15 cm

8

14.6 cm

String: The strings of the guitar vibrate, and the shape of the guitar itself amplifies the sound so
it can be heard. Strings have their own natural frequency, just like our chimes. Instead, the
natural frequency is depended on the tension of the string and the length of the string. Once one
of the guitar strings is plucked, the string then vibrates, and it produces the natural frequency.
The guitar base then causes the sound to become louder. The thickness of the string

determines how fast it can vibrate back and forth. A thicker string will vibrate slower, and create
a lower pitch than a thinner string.
In a traditional guitar, the strings are slightly different thicknesses and lengths with a tuning peg
to tune the guitar if it was to become out of tune. For our guitar, we used the same material for
the strings, which means that we needed to make the lengths different from each other. We
have seven different strings, which are at different lengths and play different notes. The strings
are attached to a screw which can be tightened or loosened to tune the instrument. To find the
string length, we divided the wavelength of each note in half. This is because when you play a
string instrument, you only strum upwards. The string cannot move in two directions at once; it
only moves up or down. With only the up OR down motion, we do not get the other half of the
wave; we only have half of the wavelength. This is why we divide the original note’s wavelength
in half.
String Note

Wavelength (½)

String Length (cm)

C4

132 cm x ½

66 cm

D4

117.5 cm x ½

59 cm

E4

105 cm x ½

52 cm

F4

99 cm x ½

49.5 cm

G4

88 cm x ½

44 cm

A4

78 cm x ½

39 cm

B4

70 cm x ½

35 cm