We consider the problem of depicting possible periodic motions of a strongly nonlinear system in the frequency-energy plane. The particular case of a 2-degree-of-freedom, linear primary structure coupled to a 2-DOF, nonlinear attachment is examined in detail. While there exist numerical tools for the semiautomatic computation of such frequency-energy plots (FEPs), the presence of multiple essential (nonlinearizable) nonlinearities in the present system introduces new challenges in their application. Furthermore, the multiple degrees of freedom of the nonlinear subsystem allow the existence of complex nonlinear normal modes localized there but exhibiting more complicated resonances than those previously observed in the study of a single-DOF nonlinear attachment. The FEP generated for a laboratory-scale mechanical system is interpreted to explain the transitions and energy transfers that occur in the simulated transient response of the combined system following broadband shock excitation.

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