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15 14 lissajous figures sound made shape In the mid nineteenth century a French mathematician, Jules Lissajous, devised an experiment He found that if a small mirror was placed at the tip of a tuning fork, and a light beam aimed at it, then the vibration could be thrown on to a dark screen. When the tuning fork was struck, a small vertical line was produced and if quickly cast sideways with another mirror it produced a sinewave below. Lissajous wondered what would happen if instead of casting the wave sideways he were to place another tuning fork at right angles to the first to give the lateral motion. He found that tuning forks with relative frequencies in simple ratios produced beautiful shapes, now known as Lissajous figures. On the screen opposite top, we see the octave 21 as a figure of eight, and below it various phases of the major and minor third. These were some of the first fleeting pictures of harmony, which were doubtless familiar to Professor Blackburn when he devised the harmonograph.
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