Music from Vibrating Wallpaper

Frank A. Farris, Santa Clara University

BRIDGES STOCKHOLM 2018 Mathematics, Art, Music, Architecture, Education, Culture The National Museum of Science and Technology (Tekniska museet) Stockholm, Sweden 25–29 July 2018 Family Day: Saturday, July 28th, afternoon Excursion: Sunday, July 29th


Wallpaper patterns have been shown to be decomposable into standing waves of plane vibrations [6]. Previously unexplored are the sounds that arise from these vibrations. The main result of this paper is that each wallpaper type (square, hexagonal, rectangular, generic) has its own distinctive family of pitches relative to a fundamental. We review the method to make wallpaper with wave functions and describe new musical scales for each type, including initial attempts to use the scales: a movie showing vibrations of wallpaper patterns with 3- and 6-fold symmetry inspired a new piece by American composer William Susman, commissioned by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Barbara Day Turner, conductor. The piece, “In a State of Patterns,” was premiered on March 25, 2018.