Ding, Dong, Ding, Dong: Morning Bells Are Ringing *
AbstractFor centuries, beautiful bell towers, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, have been the center of village life, announcing the time of day, the joy of weddings, and the sorrow of funerals. They were also used to call villagers to action in times of danger. Have you ever wondered, though, why people put the bells in towers? The bells are so heavy, why haul them all the way up to the top of tall towers? Why not just ring them on the ground? Putting bells up high does make for a dramatic visual display, but is there more to it than that? Does hoisting the bells up high change the way the bell's music sounds to people? In this music science fair project, you'll explore the acoustics of bell towers.
Even if you don't have a bell on hand right now, you can get an idea of how a bell's music is heard if you take the lid of an aluminum or stainless steel saucepan and hold it by the handle, with the bottom pointed downward, and strike it with a wooden spoon. First, hold the lid close to the ground, only touching the handle, and strike it with the spoon. Then hold the lid above your head, again with the bottom pointed downward and only touching the handle, and strike it a second time with a similar force and in a similar location as the first time. Do you hear any difference? Think about the high frequencies or high-pitched sounds, and the low frequencies or low-pitched sounds. Can you hear all the high frequencies in both positions? What about all the low frequencies? Do some frequencies seem to be attenuated (or reduced) by moving the lid closer to the ground? Write down your observations in your lab notebook.
To investigate how the music from bell towers is heard, you will need an instrument or CD player, a helper, and access to a home or building that:
- Is away from external sources of noise, like traffic,
- Has at least two higher floors above the ground floor, and
- Has windows that are on all the floors that you want to test.
Be sure to take an adult with you if you have to leave your home. You will play a melody on your instrument, or a well-known instrumental piece of music with high and low notes on your CD player, in front of open windows on each floor, at the same volume. Do not ever lean out the windows, as that is very dangerous. As you play music from each floor, your helper will count paces away from the building or home until he or she can no longer hear certain notes in the melody. Which frequencies are first to be attenuated? High or low? How much farther away can your helper walk before the music cannot be heard at all? Can your helper hear at greater distances when you play the music on the ground floor or on the upper floors? Go wake up Frère Jacques and find out!
Cite This PageGeneral citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.
Last edit date: 2017-07-28
This source describes the history and purpose of bell towers:
Wikipedia Contributors. (2008, October 8). Bell tower. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 12, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bell_tower&oldid=243955274
News Feed on This Topic
Ask an ExpertThe Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
Ask an Expert
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Sound Engineering TechnicianAny time you hear music at a concert, a live speech, the police sirens in a TV show, or the six o'clock news you're hearing the work of a sound engineering technician. Sound engineering technicians operate machines and equipment to record, synchronize, mix, or reproduce music, voices, or sound effects in recording studios, sporting arenas, theater productions, or movie and video productions. Read more
PhysicistPhysicists have a big goal in mind—to understand the nature of the entire universe and everything in it! To reach that goal, they observe and measure natural events seen on Earth and in the universe, and then develop theories, using mathematics, to explain why those phenomena occur. Physicists take on the challenge of explaining events that happen on the grandest scale imaginable to those that happen at the level of the smallest atomic particles. Their theories are then applied to human-scale projects to bring people new technologies, like computers, lasers, and fusion energy. Read more
Civil EngineersIf you turned on a faucet, used a bathroom, or visited a public space (like a road, a building, or a bridge) today, then you've used or visited a project that civil engineers helped to design and build. Civil engineers work to improve travel and commerce, provide people with safe drinking water and sanitation, and protect communities from earthquakes and floods. This important and ancient work is combined with a desire to make structures that are as beautiful and environmentally sound, as they are functional and cost-effective. Read more
ArchitectThe essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson called Greek architecture the "flowering of geometry." Architects blend art and science, designing structures for people, such as houses, apartments, schools, stores, malls, offices, places of worship, museums, sports stadiums, music theaters, and convention centers. Their designs must take into account not only the structure's appearance, but its safety, function, environmental impact, and cost. Architects often participate in all phases of design, from the initial consultation with the clients where the structure is envisioned, to its completion. Architects can enrich people lives by creating structures that are as beautiful to look at as they are functional to live, work, or shop in. Read more
News Feed on This Topic
Looking for more science fun?
Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.Find an Activity
Explore Our Science Videos
Walking Water Experiment
Why Won't it Mix? Discover the Brazil Nut Effect
Slow Motion Craters - STEM Activity