Sympathetic resonance

A friend just got a waterphone – it’s not really a clone as it has much simpler tuning, from low to high… And while this is good for glissando, it completely misses the brilliant microtonal design by Roger Waters (RIP) who invented the waterphone.

The model I have is the MEGABASS – the largest they make, designed by Roger Waters & built by Brooks Hubbert via and looking at the layout & number of tines, their pitch distribution and how they perform really is astonishing. It shows how much thought, experimentation & evolution went into the waterphone.

So this example shows how slowly striking the handle of a Waterphone at a steady rate of approx 1 strike per second, causes so much sympathetic vibration in the longer tines that they vibrate so much they hit each other!

Waterphone sympathetic resonance

I don’t remember when I discovered this ‘trick’ but it was likely inspired by reading how Nikola Tesla got into making physical oscillators with built-in feedback. I read of how he built one that was the size of a book, and which if strapped to the frame of a house and left to run for a few hours, would eventually make the house collapse! I’m no physicist but I imagine it is similar phenomenon to why soldiers always break step when crossing a bridge ie if the rhythm of their marching happens to coincide with a natural frequency of the bridge, the positive reinforcement can become destructive!



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