- A picture of a clarinet, an instrument that utilizes a vibrating reed and a resonating chamber to produce sounds.
Resonance is a sound phenomenon in which sounds with particular frequencies are amplified more than other sounds in a system. The system could be anything from a solid structure such as a steel beam, to a trapped column of air. In a resonant system, the specific frequencies that cause the highest amplitude are those that match the natural frequency of the system.
The natural frequency of a system is the frequency at which the system vibrates naturally when set into motion. This frequency often corresponds to the length and shape of the system. For instance, skyscrapers and bridges have natural frequencies whose wavelengths correspond to their height and length respectively. For this reason, engineers who build structures like these must be very careful in their designs. If too many components of such structures were to resonate at the same frequency, then the amplitude could become great enough to cause structural damage or failure. Such was the case of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940.
Resonating Chambers are housings which trap air in a particular shape. In wind instruments, the chamber is normally based on either a conical or cylindrical shape. The shape of the air column is designed to have a specific natural frequency, and when the air in the chamber is excited, it will resonate, reflect between the sides of the chamber, and produce sounds. Standing Waves are produced in the chamber due to the reflection and resonance. The sound waves that exit the resonating chamber will have continuous and predictable pitch and tone because of the standing waves, and because of the resonating chamber's known natural frequency. The design of resonating chambers is paramount in the creation of almost all wind instruments.
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Jeffrey Disharoon; Tyler Sammann
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