Sounds are made by vibrations. The Oscylinderscope exhibit allows visitors the opportunity to view the normally unseen vibrations of guitar strings. The white stripes on the drum highlight a portion of the guitar string which is captured by your eye. When the drum is spinning, your eye retains the image for a moment, and your brain combines a series of images into a wave pattern that is not really there. This is called the “persistence of vision.”
Unlike an ordinary guitar, each of the three guitar strings on the Oscylinderscope is a different length. The tension, thickness, and length of a string affect its frequency of vibration. Frequency is the number of waves in a given time. Oscylinderscope gives visitors an opportunity to see the frequency of the guitar strings. Shorter or tighter strings vibrate faster to make sounds with a higher pitch. Longer or looser strings vibrate slower to make sounds with a lower pitch. Visitors can tighten the strings by stepping on the pedal at the base of the exhibit.
Exhibit/artwork concept designs by Norman Tuck, produced with permission.
MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation