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Build Your Own Xylophone Out of Copper Pipe

Summary

Areas of Science
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.
Credits
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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!

Bibliography

  • Lapp, D.R. (2003, July). Building a copper pipe "xylophone." Physics Education. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
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Careers

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Physicists 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… Read more

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MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Build Your Own Xylophone Out of Copper Pipe." Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Music_p024/music/build-your-own-xylophone-out-of-copper-pipe. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). Build Your Own Xylophone Out of Copper Pipe. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Music_p024/music/build-your-own-xylophone-out-of-copper-pipe


Last edit date: 2020-11-20
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