Chladni's clavicylinder and some imitations

  • B. Heise


Chladni's accomplishments in the field of instrument making were until recently not nearly as well-respected as his studies on the modes of vibration of plates and rods. However, he had developed his own friction instruments based on the glass harmonica, a popular instrument of his time. The instruments, which he partially built himself, had keys, which distinguished them from the glass harmonica. Additionally, these instruments differed from traditional keyboard instruments as they enabled the crescendo and decrescendo of individual notes after the key had been struck. Although Chladni's clavicylinder fascinated audiences and prompted imitations by many instrument makers, it was largely ignored by composers and pianists and therefore never became part of standard orchestration. The Museum of Musical Instruments of the University of Leipzig features three rare examples of friction instruments which have outlasted the centuries. These instruments were built according to the Chladni principle. After a thorough analysis, including the production of individual notes, these instruments will be presented in their cultural-historical as well as their technical context, followed by a discussion of their advantages and disadvantages. These originals exhibits allow for a conclusive comprehension of Chladni's ideas and his quest for new, unusual tone colors.


European Physical Journal Special Topic Musical Instrument Adjustable Weight Tone Colour Cylinder Length 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Heise
    • 1
  1. 1.Museum für Musikinstrumente der Universität LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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