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Build Your Own Xylophone Out of Copper Pipe

240 reviews


Areas of Science
Time Required
Average (6-10 days)
Material Availability
Specialty items: Tube and pipe cutter wheel, or hack saw.
Low ($20 - $50)
Adult supervision required to cut the copper pipe.
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

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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!


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

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 27 Feb. 2024.

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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