Stationary waves

The term standing wave is often applied to a resonant mode of an extended vibrating object. The resonance is created by constructive interference of two waves which travel in opposite directions in the medium, but the visual effect is that of an entire system moving in simple harmonic motion. The sketches illustrate the fundamental and second harmonic standing waves for a stretched string.

The modes of vibration associated with resonance in extended objects like strings and air columns have characteristic patterns called standing waves. These standing wave modes arise from the combination of reflection and interference such that the reflected waves interfere constructively with the incident waves.