Happy Memorial Day

Here’s to all the men and women who serve our country, and keep us safe. Words like Thank You don’t begin to cover it. Every day, I try to honor all the wonderful people who made me who I am, who make my life what it is today. I try to honor these countless sacrifices and contributions by living the best life I can, by serving those around me, and by earning the amazing gifts I’ve already been given. That’s what “thank you” means to me.

I hope you’ll forgive my keyboard skills. The point of this particular rendition of the Star Spangled Banner is to show what sound looks like. Here’s what’s happening.

The thing with fire coming out of it is called a Ruben’s Tube. Into one end of the tube, we’re pumping propane gas. At the other end of the tube is a speaker, through which the music is played. Along the top of the tube are a few hundred little holes that let the gas out. When the propane leaves the tube, it mixes with air, which makes it flammable. Pure propane, by the way, doesn’t burn at all. It needs air. Somewhere between 3% and 11% mixture. More or less than that and it wont burn at all.

When I play the notes, you’ll see that the flames form at different heights across the tube. That’s because the sound being played into the tube creates areas of different pressure. These are called Standing Waves.  The lower the notes, the longer the wave. As you listen to the music, you’ll see that some notes create more pronounced flame patterns, or waves, than others. The Star Spangled Banner is a great song for this kind of demonstration because it covers a really wide range of notes. Plus, it’s patriotic and fun to play, even if your last piano lesson was 30 years ago.

I hope you enjoy the song, the SoundFire Tube, and your memorial day.

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