The problem in the creation of traveling waves is approached here from an unconventional angle. The formulation makes use of normal vibration modes, which are standing waves, to express both traveling waves and the required force distribution. It is shown that a localized force is required at any discontinuity along the structure to absorb reflected waves. This convention is demonstrated for one- and two-dimensional structures modeled as continua, and as discretized numerical approximation of the mass and stiffness matrices. Harmonic vibrations can be characterized as standing or traveling waves or as a combination of both. By applying forces that have been specially designed for the purpose, the vibratory response can become a pure traveling wave. The force distribution is important for the design of ultrasonic motors and in control applications, attempting to absorb and create outgoing and incoming waves.