Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pan Flute

¬¬ I blogged awhile ago about a physics project where I was assigned to make a musical instrument that is capable of playing five different notes in a scale. We are also required to identify what makes our instrument capable of creating sound, and are also supposed to play a song in front of the class. Well, the project was assigned about three weeks ago, it’s due tomorrow, I about half way done with it.
I have the actual instrument made (I found instructions online for making a PVC pan flute) but have yet to pick out a “recital” piece for the class, or figure out all the physics properties involved that causes my instrument to create sound! This is such a frustrating project for me! It was assigned by our student teacher (I’m pretty sure our regular teacher doesn’t assign this project) and so I get really annoyed knowing that if we didn’t have a student teacher I wouldn’t be stuck doing this stupid project! Spring, with tennis season, is probably the most stressful season of the year, and having to do this project is has just made it more stressful.
Following directions I found online, I made my pan flute by cutting a ½” in diameter piece of PVC piping into various lengths (longer lengths create lower notes, and shorter lengths create higher pitched notes). Then I laid the pipes together, aligning the tops of each pipe with each other, and then duct taped them together. Then I realized that the pipes would only create sound if I blocked off the end of the tube with my hand. This made sense, since the air I blew into the top of the tube needed something to bounce off of (my hand).
The problem was, I couldn’t very well keep one end of each pipe covered with my hand and play it at the same time! It took a little while to find something that would block off the end of the tube and still produce noise when I blew into the top end of the pipe. I tried plastic wrap, a cotton ball, and even melting wax from a candle to cover up the end, but nothing worked. I eventually found the answer online: clay. So I blocked off the end of each pipe with a clump of clay, which allows me to blow air into the top which creates a pitch.
Now all I have to do is figure out why my instrument is capable of producing pitch, and figure out what song to perform for our physics class concert: “Physics Rocks!”

Here is a video on a man playing a Pan Flute made out of Carrots!

Video taken from the following link:

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