The nature of standing waves

Standing waves may be created from two waves travelling in opposite directions. Unlike travelling waves, they do not cause a net transport of energy.

String modes

Standing waves can be generated when plucking a string with fixed ends. Each mode has a wavelength and a corresponding frequency related to the length of the string.

Membrane modes

Membranes with fixed edges also vibrate in modes. Their natural frequencies are not so simply related.

Open-ended pipe

The natural vibrations of the air column in a pipe (like a flute) are due to standing waves or resonances. Air-reed instruments like the flute can be seen as a resonator excited by an air stream which flips in and out of the pipe at the resonant frequency of the system.

Room modes

Standing wave phenomena can also occur in a room at specific frequencies called the resonance frequencies of the room.

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