For my midterm project, I set out to experiment with and better understand the 'hidden' resonant frequencies of tennis racquets.
I'm generally interested in the idea of the amplifying sound frequencies that our ears cannot hear. Infrasounds are like a hidden world, tucked away in objects that we use on a daily basis. I chose to work with tennis racquets because I used to play tennis when I was younger, and just recently started playing once again. The objective of the midterm project was to explore the physics of sound as expressed through a medium. To me, the tennis racquet acts as the medium since it's essentially an instrument on its own: the frame is a resonator, and it comes 'pre-loaded' with plenty of taut strings to act as vibrating elements.
I chose 4 different racquets and explored each of their resonant frequencies. In order to do this, I attached a contact microphone to the grip of the racquet, and using an audio interface (M-AUDIO ProFire 610) I amplified the vibrations picked up by the contact microphone. I recorded these vibrations for each of the racquets on my computer using Audacity, and also captured the spectrogram visualization of each racquet's vibrations using iSpectrum.
Here's a video documenting my process and the results:
I want to continue working on this and develop it into a final project for the class. I'd like to turn tennis racquets (or perhaps other objects with hidden resonant frequencies) into interactive interfaces through which people can create sound. This would involve real-time amplification of the vibrations picked up by contact microphones, for which I'd probably use Pure Data or Max/MSP. I'm contemplating altering the sounds in real-time as well: distortion, glitch, changing the frequency/pitch, etcetera, to provide greater depth to the soundscape.
Additionally, I would build some sort of rig to suspend the racquets in mid-air, so they could freely vibrate. Ultimately, I'd like to use Processing to animate visuals that will be triggered by the sounds. I'm going to work on a more detailed proposal and start sketching out ideas.