Getting Started

 SoundScribe

Welcome to SoundScribe! Here is a quick overview of how to connect, use, and care for your unit. This document is packed with information, tips, and web links to apps and resources to help you get started.

IN THE BOX

Brush

Use to gently brush the sand off the plate for a fresh start between frequencies or before storage. The sand will go inside the frame for draining.

Sand

This is a washed, coarse grade sand that works well for Cymatics. Once you’ve connected your Bluetooth device to the unit, sprinkle a sparse layer of sand onto the plate. Start with very little and add additional if necessary. Too much sand on the plate will negatively impact the quality of the patterns produced. As you explore sound frequencies, add more sand as needed.

Power Supply

Plug into the DC jack in the back of the unit. You know the rest. :)

Ear Plugs

There are 2 pairs of ear plugs included. The higher frequency ranges are not something you should subject yourself to without protection. Please wear them.

SOFTWARE

There are many different mobile apps out there for generating sound frequencies. The best apps enable you to incrementally control volume and tonal frequencies by swiping up and down allowing slow transitions from pattern to pattern.

Android

Browse the many different sound frequency apps in the Google Play store. I highly recommend the Frequency Sound Generator app as it allows you to experiment with different wave forms, incrementally increase or decrease frequencies, save frequencies, and more.

iOS

On your phone or tablet, search “tone generator” in the App Store where there are many to choose from. There is an iOS version of the Frequency Sound Generator app recommended above for $.99. Similarly named, the Frequency Sound Generator App also looks very easy to use and is FREE.

PC or Mac

There lots of free online tone generators available. If you have a laptop that is Bluetooth enabled, definitely try ToneGen or the Online Tone Generator.

CymaticsLab On YouTube

Want the guided tour? Check out the SoundScribe Frequencies playlist on YouTube where you’ll find a list of 30+ frequencies to explore. Remember, any audio source can be used to generate patterns so be sure to experiment. Maybe try the sounds of a Humpback Whale!!!

We will be adding new content to the YouTube channel ongoing as we find new pattern producing sound resources as well as interesting videos on the topic of Cymatics. Visit our channel and click “Subscribe”!

CONNECT WIRELESSLY

This is the most common way to connect. With power supply connected, use the button at the front of the unit to power on. Once powered on, the unit will be in Bluetooth discovery mode. Using your phone or laptop, proceed to “pair new device” or similar in the Bluetooth settings panel of your device. Look for “SoundScribe” in the list of available Bluetooth devices and select it. Once selected, you will hear a few short tones and SoundScribe should be listed as the active Bluetooth device.

CONNECT WIRED (For multi input SoundScribe models only)

Located on the front right side of the unit you will see a 3.5mm auxiliary input that can be used to play sounds from non Bluetooth enabled devices. The sound source must be amplified and the volume must be controllable by the sound source.

The intended purpose of this input is for connecting a microphone which can be used to generate patterns from any sound source… like your voice!!! Your voice is a great way to generate patterns, especially if you have a good vocal range and can hold a note. You can also easily raise and lower the pitch of your voice to hone in on a pattern. This is a great option for teachers that are considering Cymatics for their course work. Kids absolutely love it and the interactivity really makes the material stick. If you have any questions or recommendations on equipment to use, please contact us.

LEVEL PLATE

The SoundScribe plate must be level for the best patterns and not all tables are level. If you notice that the patterns forming are thicker on one side than the other, you are not on a flat surface. You can check and adjust the level of your SoundScribe using your phone and a bubble level app like this one for Android or like this one for iOS. Whatever bubble app you choose, just make sure there is a numeric readout along with the bubble as it will be much easier to read a number (0.0 for flat) than looking at a bubble between two lines.

Just place your phone flat facing up in the middle of the plate. Shim up the low side with some folded paper under each felt pad. You will only have to shim up one side. When the bubble app reads zero (or close), you are good to go.

PLAY

So the unit is on, and you are Bluetooth connected. #PROTIP To ease cleanup, lay down some fabric, paper, or similar material roughly 10 inches larger (more is better) than the unit to catch sand that bounces off the plate. Some amount of sand WILL leave the plate but the majority will be captured within the box itself for draining later.

Sprinkle a light layer of sand onto the plate (image below). #PROTIP Start with very little sand as you can always add more. A common mistake is using too much sand which ends up piling up and impeding the pattern making. Open up your chosen tone generator app and set your phone’s volume to around 50%.

If the tone generator app you are using allows you to control volume within the app, you can set the volume on your phone higher and use the apps volume control instead. This is recommended so as to avoid the annoying beep that phones generate when raising and lowering the volume using physical buttons on the phone. Those annoying beeps can also impact your pattern.

#PROTIP Always start from a low volume and raise only as needed using just enough volume to generate a pattern. Lower frequencies require very little volume and higher frequencies require higher volumes. High volume at low frequency is the most efficient way to throw sand all over the place and you definitely don’t want that. With experience and practice, you’ll be able to generate patterns with the least amount of volume.

You’ll also find that frequencies that “harmonize” most with the plate will generate clean, crisp patterns in a few seconds or less. There is no need to play a loud, shrill tone for an extended amount of time if a pattern doesn’t immediately form from that tone. You’ll also learn to dial in harmonic tones quickly by increasing frequency by 10Hz or 50Hz or 100Hz. You can step the frequency up or down by tiny 1Hz steps to fine tune the pattern. Again, 1 or 2 second blips of tone is all that’s needed but this will take practice.

Applying sand to the Chladni plate


This is more than enough sand to start with. Less is better as you can always add more as needed.

Protect Your Ears

Please wear the included ear plugs or other form of ear protection when experimenting with Cymatics, especially at higher frequencies. It’s very easy to get caught up in the “pursuit of the pattern” while subjecting your ears to potentially harmful high pitched frequencies.

Start Around 200Hz

Avoid extremely low frequencies. These tones are essentially bass and will quickly distribute the sand from plate to table and floor leaving a big mess and no pattern. There is also potential for damage to the unit. With the frequency set and volume very low or zero, play the tone. Slowly bring the volume up (hopefully using the app’s volume control) and you will begin to see a pattern emerge. If the pattern is not crisp and well defined, the frequency is not quite harmonically resonant with the plate. Raise or lower the frequency in steps of 5 or 10Hz. You’ll notice that not all frequencies generate a clean, crisp pattern...

From the Ernst Chladni Wikipedia page

“A plate or membrane vibrating at resonance is divided into regions vibrating in opposite directions, bounded by lines of zero vibration called nodal lines... Chladni's technique... consisted of drawing a bow over a piece of metal whose surface was lightly covered with sand. The plate was bowed until it reached resonance, when the vibration causes the sand to move and concentrate along the nodal lines where the surface is still, outlining the nodal lines.”

Beautiful wooden Chladni plate

CLEAN UP

That was fun! You created all kinds of neat patterns and a bit of a mess. Hopefully you laid something under the unit to catch any flying sand. What didn’t fly out is still on the plate or cascaded off the plate and into the box.

Using the provided brush, gently sweep the sand remaining on the plate off the edge of the plate and into the unit. Using the drain hole on the right side of the unit, carefully pour the sand back into the shaker by tipping the unit up from the front approximately 45 degrees. Then tip the unit in the direction of the drain hole while angling the drain (and sand) down into the shaker. You won’t get all the sand out of the box and that’s fine. The electronics are sealed and will cohabitate with any remaining sand left in the box without a problem.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s A Speaker

SoundScribe is essentially a speaker and can be used to play music just as it’s used to play tones. While it’s primarily meant for Cymatics, sound quality is pretty good. For best sound quality, enable mono audio which will provide much fuller sound through the single audio channel used by SoundScribe.

On Android... Go to Settings > Accessibility. Scroll to the bottom and you'll see "Mono audio" under the Audio On-Screen Text section. You can also just search for "mono audio" in Settings. Once there, set to enable the feature. 

On iOS... Go to Settings > General > Accessibility. You will see "Mono Audio" in the Hearing section. Set to enabled.

Remember to disable mono audio when listening to music with headphones or other stereo speaker setup.

Classical Patterns

While pattern quality varies wildly across musical genres, anything with slow moving, single note transitions will create brief transitioning patterns that are fun to watch. Slow movement string instruments typically found in Classical music provides the best results.

Turn The Lights Off

While exploring frequencies, grab a flashlight and turn off the lights. Lay the flashlight next to the unit and direct the beam so that it shines across the plate. You’ll notice that while the patterns appear flat, they are actually 3 dimensional. Quite awesome!

FEEDBACK

We’d love to hear from you. If you have a problem or suggestions on ways to improve SoundScribe, contact us and we’ll get back to you ASAP.