The Monochord

The fundamental behaviour of vibrating strings



Pulse propagation and wave motion on a string - Effects of string mass, tension, length - Effects of excitation position and type


High school, with links to university levels


The monochord experiments use a magnetic pickup and a metal string on a simple wooden frame, to illustrate the vibratory effects of the mechanical properties of a string and of the way the string is excited.


In a more advanced section, one- and two-dimensional optical transducers are described. These are harder to use, but they will resolve some asymmetric vibratory modes, and they work also with strings made from nylon and other non-conducting materials.

Downloads & Manuals

The Monochord

Assembly Instructions
pdf3Monochord assemb.

Teacher Tuition
pdf5Installing PureData

Lab Manual
pdf5Monochord Lab Instructions

PureData files
(Right-click ->
Save Target As...
pdf7Monochord Pd patch

pdf7Plucked string simulation

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