I have been studying Chladni patterns but recently I have stumbled on some conceptual questions that I seem to not have an answer. At first I thought that the theory would be the same of a vibrating membrane, with very well defined solutions for given geometries like a square or a circular one like it is described in this document (found here) giving resonance at very well defined and discrete frequencies.. But then I saw the computational work done by kai5z in GitHub, where its script is able to generate a Chladni pattern for any frequency. At first I thought that it would have something to be with the fact that it considers a forced 2D oscillator but that doesn't make sense.
Further investigation showed me that Chladni patterns come from the eigenfunctions of a bi-harmonic operator and the vibration modes for a membrane come from the eigenfunctions of the Laplacian, but why? How are the problems different? What makes it imperative to have two theories for the two problems? Are the membrane solutions an approximation for the plate solutions? Are they somewhat related?