Wind chimes are hollow, solid-metal or wooden, cylinders, that are hung in open spaces with the intention of the tubes generating soothing and soul-tingling music. As and when the wind causes the chimes or hollow tubes to strike each other, nature plays for man! The entire piece is usually made of metal or wood and the hollow cylinders are hung from the center, held together by a matching string holder. The unique aeolian chimes marketed today have calculated cylinder distances and length and width. This is usually in sync with the specifications within the science of Feng Shui.
The working of wind chimes is simple. Depending upon the height at which they are displayed, the length and width of each of the hollow cylinders, and the number of these, the higher partials are dampened for the fundamental action to be brought on. Wind chimes of a high-quality are also usually hung in a way that the ball at the center of the chime strikes the center of the surrounding tubes. The type of music produced and the frequency, are largely determined by the thickness of each cylinder and the material used to make them. Authentic replicas of the ones specified in Feng Shui are made along the application of formulas that enable the maker to decide on the calculated length to achieve a particular note.
What the Home Décor Industry Thinks
The wind chimes that are fine tuned are associated with good luck in many parts of Asia. The chimes are produced to generate a pleasant ringing sound through the day and are hung by the windows to bring cooling relief, especially in summer. Today, they are made of materials other than metal or wood and are marketed in unique shapes too, going beyond the regular tubes and rods. Many homes and offices are now fitted with wind chimes made of bamboo, stone, glass, seashells, horseshoes, and even PVC pipes. Since different materials make a different sound, the choice is personal. The rustic appeal of these comes from the fact that the sounds produced cannot be tuned to generate specific notes.
The music produced by wind chimes ranges from melodious tinkling to a gentle thud. The tone generated depends on the material, the exact alloy if it is metallic, the heat treatment, and so on. It also depends on the thickness of the chimes, the hanging method, and the designed strike, hard or soft. Unlike in the case of an organ pipe, where the pitch is determined by the length of the air column that vibrates, in the case of wind chimes, the pipe material itself is struck and hence, the timbre has little to do with the air column. The music may change with every change in the direction of the wind.
Now, there are well-known and loved hymns inspiring the placement of the cylinders and material, in the manufacturing of wind chimes. The sails and clappers are constructed with delicate laminated bamboo that not only adds to the durability factor, but also is tunable to the required musical note. There are dedicated percussion wind chimes in the market that are tuned via a computerized process to produce soothing sounds. The intonation and the frequencies at which the different tubes vibrate are integrated. These are popular around the world.