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The Kid Should See This

Slow Motion Orchestra: Instruments filmed in slow-mo

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How do instruments create sound and what’s going on when they’re played? Observe harps, violins, vibraphones, and other instruments in slow motion with this Slow Motion Orchestra series by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

See the sound of a harp being played in the video above, then watch slow motion footage of percussion instruments like drums and cymbals:

What’s going on? From Dr Alexander Kolassa at

Instruments, one way or another, make sounds, and all sounds are vibrations which travel across particles that make up the air around us (for humans anyway). These vibrations are then transformed in our eardrum – itself a thin vibrating membrane, like you might find on a drum – to be translated, eventually, into something our brains ‘hear’. Phew, simple!


A musical instrument, in short, might itself vibrate, or have a part that vibrates, or amplifies and/or modifies another vibration. Those vibrations bump into neighbouring air molecules as per my description above, and you can think of those forming a wave like those in the figure below. A faster vibration creates more waves; the rate at which they move is called the ‘frequency’, which we measure in hertz (Hz), or cycles per second. The higher the frequency (or the more ‘bumps’ in the waveform) the higher the pitch.

Read more at Then find a slow motion vibraphone, above, and more short Slow Motion Orchestra video demonstrations from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra below, including the violin, trombone, and a double bass:

Watch these sound, vibration, and frequency videos next:
• Sound is a vibration, a demonstration
• How does sound travel to our brains?
• Resonance, forced vibration, and a tuning forks demo
• How does a music box work?
• DIY Popsicle Stick Kalimba
• Percussion instruments: Eleven demonstrations
• See the unseen: Cymbal at 1,000 frames per second

Plus, watch more orchestra videos.

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