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Published on 16 April 2008

The Harmonograph was a 19th century curiosity for visualising the mathematics of music.

A common form of the device was to have two pendulums that swing at right angles to each other. From the top of each pendulum an arm that is attached to a pen. By changing the relative swinging frequency of the pendulums the pen will trace out some interesting shapes. An additional variation is to also attach the paper platform to the top of a third pendulum and set this spinning.

The equations that describe the behaviour and a detailed explanation of the physical devices are detailed by Paul Bourke. There is also a superbly illustrated book by Wooden Books dedicated to Harmonographs.

Explore the Harmonograph online or download AS3 source code.

  Last updated: 5 October 2008


  • Web Gallery commented at 6 February 2009 at 19:50

    Had put a link on your harmonograph applet on Wikipedia's article.. ^^

  • Taira commented at 11 February 2009 at 09:19

    Hello! The Harmonograph is lovely! But, I downloaded the source code since I would love to put it in a section of my site, and I see it has MacOS files.. Will it work if installed through WinXP? Also, how exactly is it installed/uploaded? And finally, I would like to ask for permission, after I understand its file structure, to translate it in Japanese.

  • Designer Tools commented at 30 June 2010 at 19:15

    Here is another very cool interactive Harmonograph