NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1672 __ Musical cylinder
Robert Hooke (1635-1703)
Comment : Chladni (around 1800) produced two musical instruments the Euphonium and the Clavicylinder. The Clavicylinder was a redesign of Hooke’s "musical cylinder" or string phone. In July 1664 Hooke produced and experiment to show the number of vibrations of an extended String, made in a determinate time, requested to give a certain Tone or Note, by which it was found that "a Wire making two hundred seventy two vibrations in one second of time sounded G Sol Re Vt. in the Scale of all Musick". Hooke had found that middle C had 272 beats a second, and on 1st September 1672 Hooke noted the he had invented an easy way for "a musical cylinder with pewter tips pinched between cylindrick rings". (Daniel P. McVeigh - Oxford Dictionary of Scientists, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 101)Hooke used his new-found acoustic knowledge to build various musical instruments. In September 1672 he noted in his diary that he had invented an easy way for “a musical cylinder with pewter tips pinched between cylindrick rings” to transmit sound.a sort of musical phone, since there is no evidence he was attempting to transmit voice. Hooke did, however, invent a large horn-like ‘ear’ a “large conical tin receiver for the magnifying of sounds; which being tried was found to make words softly uttered at a distance to be heard distinctly; whereas they could not be so heard without this instrument,” as recounted by the Royal Society. 200 years later, Thomas Edison reproduced Hooke’s Ear Trumpet experiments, calling his device a Megaphone. He combined two of these (one for each ear) with a speaking trumpet. It is reported that a person yelling as loud as possible could be heard up to two miles away and that a whisper could be heard at a distance of up to 1,000 feet. Hooke was deeply influenced by his research into acoustics and the physical nature of sound. In many of his writings he talks about vibration, pulses, and musical analogies in his attempt to account for all of the universe’s physical phenomena, which he felt operated on the principles of “harmony” and “dissonance”. This is probably because that in the period just preceding the proto-scientific era of Hooke, there was thought to be a close relationship between musical acoustics and magic. The “magical” qualities of music could be made empirically discernable via such phenomena as sympathetic vibration.the ability of a vibrating string to set into motion another string at a distance. To a 16th century observer, sympathetic vibration was obviously an example of music’s occult powers. It was believed by natural philosophers of the days that a similar kind of sympathetic resonance took place when the human ear perceives music and certain “affections” could be “set into motion” in the listener. Pythagoras, after all, looked up the human body as a sort of extended monochord composed of various harmonious proportions. Even to a more scientific fellow of the 17th century such as Hooke, a violin string vibrating in sympathetic resonance to another one was called a “magicall string”. Historians of science have shown us that the vibrating string was not just a heuristic mental device for Hooke, it was a fundamental model by which to understand and explain other natural phenomena such as magnetism, light and gravity. (Richard Grigonis, “A Telephone in 1665?”, Dec. 2008)
French comment : La forme du clavicylindre, instrument construit en 1800 par Chladni, était à peu près celle d'un petit piano carré; un cylindre de verre, parallèle au plan du clavier [à partir des expériences de Hooke avec son cylindre musical], était mis en mouvement par une manivelle à pédale; en abaissant les touches, on faisait frotter ce cylindre des tiges métalliques qui produisaient des sons. Quant à la qualité de ces sons et à leur timbre, le clavicylindre avait de l'analogie avec l'harmonica, mais il n'exerçait pas, comme celui-ci, une sorte d'irritation sur le système nerveux. Les autres avantages du clavicylindre étaient de prolonger le son à volonté, d'en augmenter ou diminuer la force par des nuances bien graduées, et de garder invariablement son accord. (In "Biographie Universelle Ancienne et Moderne, ou Dictionnaire de tous les Hommes qui se sont fait remarquer par leurs écrits, leurs actions, leurs talents, leurs vertus ou leurs crimes, depuis le Commencment du Monde jusqu'à ce jour; ouvrage rédigé )
Source : McVeigh, Daniel P. (2000), “An Early History of the Telephone 1664-1865”, electronic publication, with the help of Jean Gagnon, Daniel Langlois Foundation, and Don Foresta, MARCEL, 2000.
Urls : http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/projects/bluetelephone/html/chladni.html (last visited ) http://technews.tmcnet.com/business-phone-service/topics/enterprise-fixed-communications/articles/47924-telephone-1665.htm (last visited )

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