Wind chimes may sound pleasant, but do you know how they make those sounds? The basic parts of a set include four to eight rods, all of which are pitched differently, and a center disc, which is designed to hit only two non-consecutive rods at a time. No exact method on creating perfectly harmonious wind chimes exists, however. Makers and designers often create with varying types of materials, from metal of different thicknesses to wood, and this varies from, for example, the set lengths for strings inside a piano. Although both a set of chimes and a piano have the same concept, or a pitched object being hit to make said sound, wind chimes are open to more experimentation.
The materials for a set vary, although metals and wood are most typical. Occasionally, some made from glass, stone, or shell-like materials are seen. Regardless of what materials are used, the important aspect is that all rods in a set are in tune with each other. The more common materials used, particularly for metal, are copper or an aluminum alloy, but, even then, the thickness of the rods vary. How, then, are the rods in tune with each other?
The reason any object makes a sound when hit has to do with vibrations, and wind chimes are no different. The key when creating them is to find the exact length for the materials you’re using to create the perfect pitch. Generally, the pitch groups used are a pentatonic chord or a major chord – but not in the same set. Although the full set of notes for a pentatonic chord can be used for a full set, a set based on pitches of a major chord uses the same notes again but in a different octave. As a result, wind chimes created with a major chord in mind often have a larger pitch range.
With either of these pitch sets, all intervals between two non-consecutive rods will be harmonious. Although many add a set of wind chimes to their porch or garden for melodic sounds to pass through the air, creating wind chimes isn’t as simple as they, literally, sound.
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