Schlieren imaging of shock waves from a trumpet

Brian H. Pandya, Gary S. Settles, James D. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A sensitive, large-aperture schlieren optical instrument is applied to observe gas-dynamic phenomena at the exit of a trumpet. Shock waves are seen, especially for loud, high-pitched trumpet notes, and several illustrations are given. Microphone waveforms are given for representative examples. These shock waves arise from the shock-tube-like effect of the performer's intermittent breath pressure driving the cylindrical duct of the trumpet, and are the result of cumulative nonlinear acoustic propagation inside the trumpet bore. They are, however, very weak, traveling only marginally above the acoustic speed. In the 118-124 peak dB(A) range, they are near the weak limit of shock wave visibility by schlieren optics. The schlieren evidence confirms that the frequency of the emitted shock waves corresponds to the frequency of the note being played. Ancillary laminar and turbulent jet phenomena associated with the performer's breath are also visible in the images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3363-3367
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6 I
StatePublished - Dec 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


Dive into the research topics of 'Schlieren imaging of shock waves from a trumpet'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this