'This is not unregulated Chaos. It is a dynamic but ordered pattern'

The name most associated with Cymatics is that of Swiss born Physician & natural scientist
Hans Jenny (pr. yenny). His 1967 book Kymatic volume 1 first popularized the phenomena of -'Cymatics' the phrase coined by Jenny which has become synonymous with wave phenomena and the creation of ethereal looking water-sound images.

Dr Jenny in the lab

Born in Basel Switzerland in 1904, Jennys love of nature & music were strong influences
from an early age. As a child he was a gifted keyboard player and although a career in
music seemed his most likely route he chose instead to become a physician. After completing his doctorate he taught science at the Rudolph Steiner school in Zurich for
four years, before setting up his own medical practice in the Swiss village of Dornach.

Jennys naturalistic approach to his work informed his view of Cymatics & sound and their
part in the creation of the universe. Jenny was an advocate of the idea that Cymatics described a sound-matrix at work in nature, an invisible driving force that could create everything from the wave-like shape of a mountain range to the stripes on a zebra or the petals on a flower

"The more one studies these things, the more one realizes that sound is the creative
principle. It must be regarded as primordial. No single phenomenal category can be
claimed as the aboriginal principle. We cannot say, in the beginning was numbers
or in the beginning was symmetry, etc..... They are not themselves
the creative power. This power is inherent in tone, in sound.
" - Hans Jenny

Before Jenny - Ernst Chladni, Robert Hooke, Galileo Galilei

In fact Jenny is just one in a long line of venerated scientist / philosophers involved with Cymatics, stretching all the way back to the original Father of Science


Galileo was the first to notice the formation of regular patterns on an oscillating body while
experimenting with plates & chisels in

''....scraping a brass plate with a sharp iron chisel in order to remove some spots from it and running the chisel rather rapidly over it, I once or twice, during many strokes, heard the plate emit a rather strong and clear whistling sound: on looking at the plate more carefully
I noticed a long row of fine streaks parallel and equidistant from one another.."
- Galileo

1680 : Royal society member, philosopher, architect and polymath Robert Hooke also noticed nodal patterns forming as he ran a violin bow along the edge of a glass plate covered with a fine layer of flour. Hooke is better known for giving us his law of elasticity [Hooke's Law] than for popularizing Cymatics.

it wasn't until Ernst Chladni later repeated Hookes experiments, publishing his findings
in the book
Discoveries in the Theory of sound [1787] that Cymatics began to reach
a wider audience.

Ernst Chladni

Chladnis book describes how sand sprinkled on a plate could be excited by drawing a bow along the plates edge. When the bowed plate reached resonance the sand formed a pattern showing the nodal regions, almost exactly the same experiment that Galileo and Hooke had carried out many years previously. Because of Chladni's book however, his became the name most associated with the vibrating plate phenomena now known as the Chladni Plate

Variations on the Chladni plate [Chaldni modes] are still in use today by many instrument manufacturers. Most typically used in the design and build of guitars, violins and Cellos Chladni modes help to visually reveal how the body of an instrument is resonating at a given frequency, identifying potential problems during the instruments construction.

Chladni Modes on a guitar body


Hans Jenny. 1904 - 1972

Jenny created the majority of his images using tone generators and crystal oscillators connected to metal plates, enabling him to precisely control the frequency and
amplitude of the signal. This also allowed him to create repeatable experiments in his laboratory. In addition to this electrically powered approach he also designed the
Tonoscope, a Cymatics device powered soley by the energy of a human voice

The Tonoscope

Jenny worked tirelessly for over 14 years gathering images and film and formulating
theories that would later be published in his 2 books -
Kymatic Volume 1 [1967]
and Volume 2 [1974]

After many years studying Cymatics he concluded "This is not an unregulated
chaos. it is a dynamic but ordered pattern."
Jennys fascination with the idea of
an underlying order lead him to produce a fascinating body of work during
his years of research, but more importantly for Jenny perhaps was his desire
to understand and connect with the very fundamental essence of life itself.


Image use & thanks

image *1 : Photo of Dr. Hans Jenny from Cymatics: A Study of Wave Phenomena and Vibration
by Hans Jenny © 2001 MACROmedia Publishing, NH USA.http://

image *2 : Galileo Galilee. Public domain image from

image *3 : Ernst Chladni. Public domain image from

image *4 : Chladni modes on guitar body. Thanks to Alan at

image *5 Tonoscope. Author unknown. Image sourced from




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