The Sound of Symmetry and the Symmetry of Sound

Marcus du Sautoy
Event date
Event time
17:00 - 18:15
Mathematical Institute
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Road
Venue details

Lecture Theatre 1

Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Disabled access?
Booking required

Symmetry has played a critical role both for composers and in the creation of musical instruments. From Bach’s Goldberg Variations to Schoenberg’s Twelve-tone rows, composers have exploited symmetry to create variations on a theme. But symmetry is also embedded in the very way instruments make sound. The lecture will culminate in a reconstruction of nineteenth-century scientist Ernst Chladni's exhibition that famously toured the courts of Europe to reveal extraordinary symmetrical shapes in the vibrations of a metal plate.

The lecture will be preceded (from 2:30pm) by a demonstration of the Chladni plates with the audience encouraged to participate. Each of the 16 plates will have their own dials to explore the changing input and can accommodate 16 players at a time. Participants will be able to explore how these shapes might fit together into interesting tessellations of the plane. The ultimate idea is to create an aural dynamic version of the walls in the Alhambra.

Please email to register.