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Build Your Own Xylophone Out of Copper Pipe *

Difficulty
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Specialty items: Tube and pipe cutter wheel, or hack saw.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Adult supervision required to cut the copper pipe.
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.

Abstract

Did you know that making a musical instrument is not just an art, but a science, too? You can discover just how scientific by building your own xylophone (or a set of chimes) from copper pipe. First you'll need to do some research about the math and physics involved in the sounds of a xylophone. For example, there are equations that describe the transverse (side-to-side) vibrations of a pipe. These vibrations create the sounds you hear. So, to get specific sounds, xylophone makers must apply these equations to calculate the correct length of pipe for a given note. Can you use these equations to build a xylophone with eight pipe lengths representing the C major scale (do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do)? How should the pipe lengths change if you want to build a xylophone that plays a different scale? For help on how to actually build the xylophone, and more information about the equations you'll need, read the article by David R. Lapp, listed in the Bibliography. You might just find that playing with equations is music to your ears!

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Last edit date: 2014-03-11

Bibliography

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