Symposium X—Frontiers of Materials Research
Best Poster Award Winners - Tuesday

MRS S16 DAY 2: Sounds played by Materials


One of the spotlights from Tuesday events I was able to attend was the talk by Annette Richards (Cornell University) and Catherine Oertel (Oberlin College) at Symposium X about "Music and Materials: Art and Science of Organ Pipe Metal". There I learnt about how materials science and engineering can be so entangled to music. It was a great talk and I loved the holistic view towards materials science and engineer area in such a poetical description way!

Have you ever thought about how materials can affect dynamics, timbre and texture in a music?

If music is an art form, and, etymologically, the "art of the Muses", then material properties are the "Muses", or even the DNA of the sounds from an organic perspective!

While listening to organ pipe pitch, timbre and texture, I learnt there about some of the materials "Homo Fabiens" used along history and trough out the world to fabricate organ pipes, how they affect the sound produced and why lead-tin alloys are the favorite materials used to fabricate organ pipes. For instance, tin can produce a brighter, sweet and pleasing overtones, while lead can add softness to the music. All these adjectives are used to describe the sound quality or category which is affected by the stiffness (composition and microstructure effects) and degradation status of a materials, just to cite a few.

The oldest organ in the world is from the 15th century and it has been already through restoration process since the organ pipe corrosion affects the unique melodies generated by the pipes. Possible causes of such corrosion of lead-tin alloy organ pipes can be various, such as industrial pollutants (SO2, NO2), and organic acid vapors (specially formic or acetic acids), just to cite a few. Then, here again scientists, engineers and technicians from materials related field make a big difference to preserve the original quality of the sound of the organ pipes once it comes to restoration of some reliquaries from the musical world.



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