Myth Buster: How High Must You Sing to Shatter a Wine Glass?

Admit it: sometimes when you’re at a party and see all that shiny, gorgeous stemware you think, “I wonder if anyone can really sing high enough to break one of these beauties?”

You’re not alone. Great minds in science, academia and even TV have taken on the challenge. Let’s start with a quick (and fun!) science lesson from Scientific American, which reminds us that “physics suggests that a voice should be able to break glass. Every piece of glass has a natural resonant frequency—the speed at which it will vibrate if bumped or otherwise disturbed by some stimulus, such as a sound wave—as does every other material on Earth. Glass wine goblets are especially resonant because of their hollow tubular shape, which is why they make a pleasant ringing sound when clinked.”

A course at Penn State University, Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy (SC200), covers mysteries like these and more in its blog, which highlights another key factor: “The glass in question needs to be crystal. Crystal resonates at one particular harmonic frequency. If you can match the pitch of your voice to the resonant frequency of the glass, the vibrating air will start the glass vibrating too. If this can be done with sufficient volume, the glass will try to move in its vibration farther and faster than the material in the glass is able to move, and the glass will break under the strain.”

And therein is the secret: sufficient volume. Most of us simply don’t have the pipes for this, even if we could hit roughly one octave above middle C. Vocal coach and rock singer Jamie Vandera made the news when he shattered a wine glass on Discovery Channel’s MythBusters. He managed to wail at 105 decibels—almost as loud as a jackhammer. Your average person doesn’t have the lungs for that volume—and thank goodness! It would be “myth confirmed, party ruined.”

Back to science for a minute, and a hint as to why multiple attempts to shatter glass are needed. Jeffrey Kysar, a mechanical engineer at Columbia University who studies the different ways that materials can fracture and fail, notes in Scientific American, "Even if you could excite the cup, that doesn't guarantee it would break. Fracture depends on the size of the initial defects."

Of course, we discourage you from using your beautiful Luigi Bormioli stemware for such experiments. Sure, we offer a glass for every occasion… just not this occasion. The masters handed down our Italian-heritage glassmaking techniques, but we apply modern technology to this ancient art for crystalline clarity and strength. Our stemware rivals elegant fine crystal but is lead-free, strengthened with our proprietary SON.hyx and resistant to breakage. Our glasses add panache to your party; they just aren’t to be used for party games. Find your favorites and raise a glass to “myth confirmed.”

At Luigi Bormioli, we take pride in our Italian-crafted, superior quality glassware. Your glasses, created using our proprietary SON.hyx ultra-clear formula, will retain their brilliant and transparent appearance and are backed by our 25-year guarantee that guards against chipping on the rim or foot, as well as discoloration or cloudiness resulting from washing. You will enjoy their beauty, durability and strength for many years to come. We aim to enhance your tabletop lifestyle and entertaining experience with a glass for every occasion. When the moment matters, the glass matters.