Pipes of Pan


Type of Wave -

A sound wave is a wave of compression and rarefaction, by which sound is propagated in an elastic medium such as air. In this case, the soundwave is traveling through the tube, and going into your ear. It travels through the tube at a certain frequency, making it high or low.

Wavelength -

A wavelength is the distance between successive crests of a wave, especially points in a sound wave or electromagnetic wave. The shorter the wavelength, the higher the frequency and the longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency. In this exhibit, you hear the lower frequencies through the longer tubes, and the higher frequencies through the shorter tubes.

Frequency -

Frequency is the rate at which something occurs or is repeated over a particular period of time or in a given sample. Frequency is expressed in this exhibit when you are listening through each tube. Depending on the length of the tube, the frequency can change, which will then alter the sounds you hear.

Amplitude -

Amplitude is the maximum extent of a vibration or oscillation, measured from the postion of equilibrium. Amplitude pretty much stays the same in this exhibit because it isn't a factor of the demonstration. This will change though, if the background noise volume raises, or decreases.

Resonance -

Resonance is the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating. The pipes of pan uses resonance to separate sounds into individual frequency components. The air inside of each tube is vibrating. So since each tube has a different length, it selects out a different set of frequencies from all of the background noise, while ignoring the other frequencies.


This hands-on project is almost exactly like when you put your ear up to a seashell, and listen to the "ocean". We know that you aren't actually listening to the ocean, but rather the echo of the noise in the air around you. This kind of noise is called "ambient noise", which is a lot like the background noise that you hear when listening through the pipes. Depending on the size and type of shell you have, you will hear different frequencies echoed back into your hear. Which is why people think that spiral conch shells are the best.

Connections -

The Pan Flute looks very similar to the Pipes of Pan hands-on sound exhibit. The Pan Flute is named after one of the Greek God's, Pan. It originated from the ancient Inca and Maya civilizations, and then spread throughout America. It works relatively similar to Pipes of Pan, other than the fact that one end is closed on the Pan Flute.