‘The sound of Mechanical Springs has been a constant ambiance in the human experience since the invention of mechanical devices. We encounter springs most of the day and night : from our cars, beds, kitchen appliances, chairs, lamps, and clocks, etc., to the reverb in our guitar amplifiers. Springs have greatly impacted our natural ambient environment long before the industrial revolution in the mechanical age, with the invention of clocks, and man made time. As we build more machines with springs the level of ambient reverberated sound increases. More in the last 100 years than the history of our entire evolution as a species. This has been a catalyst for our ears to adapt, evolve and understand the intricacies of noise and increasing natural ambient sound.
In Molecular Biology the Helix is the core structure that defines our DNA and sources of energy. The concept of a helical structure is used in electronics, engineering, physics, mathematics, and every home has at least one representation of a helix hidden somewhere.
Many versions of a helical pattern are used in spring manufacturing. Early engineering manufacturers designed springs intentionally to react well with the frequency range of the human ear and physical human response based upon the model of a helical structure.
Uses of springs as an instrument date back Movie Foley and Radio Dramas of the 1930’s, using them for booings, or tings, etc. Ben Burt the sound designer for Star Wars used a Slinky spring to emulate the sound of a laser hit. King Tubby and many dub pioneers in Jamaica used spring reverbs as instruments for an alternative method of orchestration, sometimes hitting or playing the springs.
To understand the fundamental frequency of springs and how they are manufactured there are some great books made by spring manufactures before the 1950’s. These were the pioneers, settlers, and mad men of their day in the spring manufacturing world. A.M. Wahl in 1944 wrote what is considered one of the great books on Mechanical Springs. The numbers need to be recalculated a bit to get a stable sample pitch of a fundamental tone since springs are made with different materials these days. ‘ – jw
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