Cymatics – visualizing sound digitally

During my research into digital textiles, I have wanted to explore other ways of using technologies within my work. I am interested in sound and sound recordings but wanted to create ways of visualizing sound rather than using imagery with sound.

I came across Cymatics, defined within the Collins English dictionary:



  1. (physics) the study of (particularly sound) wave phenomena and their visual representations
  2. the theory and practice of a therapy whereby sound waves are directed at the body, with the aim of promoting health.

two fantastic definitions, both of which fascinate me.

I found some beautiful examples of cymatics in action…

Susie Sie and CypherAudio used lycopodium powder and a speaker to create this audio visualisation.

With a bit more research I came across the instructions to make my own vibrating membrane here. I have saved the instructions in case I do decide to take this idea further in my work.

I explored another way of visualizing sound with programming. Using Scratch which is a programming environment for children to learn the structure of programming, I quickly created a small program to move two balls one yellow and one blue. They increase in size depending on the volume of sound and over a certain level the balls move. The yellow one draws a line as it moves and when they hit the sides of the screen they change direction and carry on moving. If both meet then the screen is cleared.

You can see this in action here… to view it you need a password which is – sound

Visualising sound – Coding example for college work. from Katie on Vimeo.

Other ways of visualizing sound could also simply be sound waves or sonographs.

All these could be recreated within a textiles project visually either with stitch or line, pattern, 3 dimensional recreation….

I have only barely touched the surface but I am keen to continue to explore these ideas further.