Visualizing Sound


A Rubens’ tube is a device used to visualize acoustic standing waves in a tube. A flammable gas is used to make visible the changes in air pressure in the tube caused by the acoustic standing wave.


A waveform is a visualization of the amplitude of an audio signal over time, and a spectrogram is a visualization of the frequency content of an audio signal over time. In this example, a recording of a spoken word is visualized for the purpose of linguistic analysis.


Normal-speed video of a snapping shrimp producing cavitation bubbles. The collapse of the cavitation bubble can produces sounds with intensities greater than 150 decibels.

High-speed video of the cavitation bubble produced by a snapping shrimp.

Snapping shrimp videos courtesy of Dr. Rich Palmer.


Western music notation has been one of the most common ways of visualizing the intricacies of art music in the Western tradition for hundreds of years.