Sound Visualization using the elements: Part 2 Fire

April 3, 2009 // Posted in Audio Hardware, Culture, Visualization  

This is the second article in a series about methods of visualizing sound outside of a television or computer screen.


Before television screens and computer monitors, fire was what our ancestors would stare at for hours on end. It was essential for survival.

Our natural fascination with fire and music were bound to be united. Some methods are more intricate than others.

Reuben’s Tube

In this first example, the subject gives a demonstration of a Reuben’s Tube. A Reubens Tube creates visible standing waves. The waves are made visible using fire. A standing wave is a wave that remains in a constant position. It can be the result of two waves, traveling in opposite directions, intersecting with each other. In this case, two speakers facing each other in a tube create the standing waves. When music is played, the fire visibly pulses. When pure tones are played, the lengths of the waveforms are made visible.


Here we see two flamethrowers mounted to a DJ booth, accentuating the climax of a musical crescendo. Who doesn’t love a big illuminating explosion when the kick drum hits?


In this example, a blowtorch is used to heat the air in a glass organ. While it’s more of a woodwind instrument, I added this because fire enables the moving gasses to become visible and it’s just plain cool.Next article, Part 3 – Water

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