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1821 __ Aconcryptophone - Diaphonicon
Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875)
Comment : « Another later sort of music phone was the “magic lyre” of Wheatstone in 1831 {1821]. He demonstrated that by connecting the sounding-boards of two musical instruments by means of a thin rod of wood, a tune played upon one will be faithfully reproduced by the other. The sounding-boards of Wheatstone's musical instruments suggested use of a more convenient sounding-box, and it was soon found that a stretched cord would do equally well to transmit a sound from one box to another. So very early on physicists were aware that sound could be transmitted over a considerable distance by a simple mechanical device. Although several patents appeared, the idea of sending voice over a vibrating wire was relegated to the toy known as the “lover’s telegraph,” or two parchment membranes stretched on rings connected at the center by a silk thread. (Richard Grigonis)The Diaphonicon apparatus is so placed that the interior flexible substances they are covered with may receive the vibrations from the strings when sounded, aided by the sound-boards; and, by reverberating them between the two flexible surfaces, and through the agency of the columns of air therin interposed, greatly inprove the quantity of the tones produced from the instruments, and communicate them, thus improved, through the esterior flexible vibrating surfaces, to the auditor. From this we observe that the novelty in the Diaphonicon consists, chiefly, of a diaphonic screen (with double surfaces, and enclosing volumes of air,) which acts around the strings when they are struck, on a similar principle to that of sounding-boards on other cases. But however constructed, we can say that the effect produced is extraordinary. The tones are wonderfully augmented in force and richness; and there is a grandeur in them which we had thought could only belong to the noblest organs. In other respects it seemed to be performed upon with as much facility as the piano-forte, which it resembles in size; and to be capable of same slight turns and niceties of expression. Upon the whole we were greatly delighted with the invention, which certainly deserves the most earnest attention of the musical world. We should mention that his instrument is entirely distinct from the beautiful ‘Euphonon’, of which we formerly gave a description, and for which the amateurs of sweet music are also included to the ingenuity and enterprise of Mr. Pinnock. ». (The London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, etc., 1824, & Useful Arts”, In New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, Part III, Vol. XXI, 1827.)After Wheatstone's studies of vibrations through solid bodies he creates his most famous instrument the "Enchanted Lyre" or the Aconcryptophone (Greek for "hearing a hidden sound", sometimes called ‘Acoucryphone’). The vibrations from a remote piano, which transmitted through a long wire, activated it. At just 19 years old Sir Charles Wheatstone gave the worlds first network music performance in his fathers music shop in Pall Mall, England (Cf. Annals of Philosophy 1823 by Thomas Thomson). It consisted of a mimic lyre hung from the ceiling by a cord, and emitting the strains of several instruments -- the piano, harp, and dulcimer. In reality it was a mere sounding box, and the cord was a steel rod that conveyed the vibrations of the music from the several instruments which were played out of sight and ear-shot. When Wheatstone played this instrument it was not a simple walk-on performance but more a musical installation. The enchanted lyre was suspended from the ceiling and circled by a velvet hoop supported on the floor by three rods. The horns of the lyre were like bugles bent down towards the floor and discs on both sides of the body of the instrument were of metallic appearance. The lyre was suspended by a brass wire, which passed through the ceiling and connected with the soundboards of instruments in a room above, where Wheatstone played pieces on the harp, piano, and the dulcimer. He used the string instruments for his "telemusic" pieces because it was easy for him to transmit sound over those devices as apposed to the flutes in which the only vibration was in a column of air. Tuned metal rods were sounded by vibrations coming from a distance through an obtrusive solid conductor. This appeared in an article in "The Repository of Music" which went on to predict the telecasting of operas and even "words of speech -- [these may be] susceptible of the same means of propagation". The concerts were conducted quite frequently and were very well received by the music critics who urged the public to go and hear the wonderful music of the "unseen performer". The high point of Wheatstone's music career came in 1822 when he conducted the sound of a whole orchestra in one of the shops along the Royal Arcade. The cost for the one-hour performance was 5 shillings. Wheatstone demonstrated both music and voice conduction with his "diaphonicon", a horizontal sound conductor running between rooms. Wheatstone continued his performances until the autumn of 1823. A writer in the REPOSITORY OF ARTS for September 1, 1821, in referring to the 'Enchanted Lyre,' beholds the prospect of an opera being performed at the King's Theatre, and enjoyed at the Hanover Square Rooms, or even at the Horns Tavern, Kennington. The vibrations are to travel through underground conductors, like to gas in pipes. 'And if music be capable of being thus conducted,' he observes,'perhaps the words of speech may be susceptible of the same means of propagation. The eloquence of counsel, the debates of Parliament, instead of being read the next day only,-- But we shall lose ourselves in the pursuit of this curious subject. (John Munro)« Enchanted Lyre.A new instrument, called the enchanted lyre, was exhibited in London in 1821. It was in a form of an ancient lyre, and was suspended from the ceiling. The centre was covered on both sides with plates of a bright metallic lustre; and there was an ornemented key-hole, like that of a time-piece, which admitted of its bein wound up; but though the inventor wound up the machine, yet he disclaimed mechanism altogether, and pretended that the performance of the enchanted lyre was entirely the result of a new combination of power. Be this as it may, the execution of Steibelt’ battle-piece, and several other compositions, some of difficult harmony, was both brilliant and beautiful, and the construction highly ingenious. ». (Sholto Percy, 1826)The Acoucryptophone, or Enchanted Lyre.« This perfectly nowel musical invention, which, during its public exhibition in London, in 1822, excited so much surprise among the votaries of the harmonci art, forms one of the most beautiful and striking experiments that has ever been witnessed, in the philosophy of sound. It constitutes one of the practicval applications of a series of original and interesting acoustical investigations, and reflects much credit on the science and talents of mr. C. Wheatstone, its ingenious inventor. The description of the exhibition of this musical curiosity is briefly as follows : The “form” of an antique lyre of large dimension was freely suspended from the ceiling by a silken chord. The instrument was not really furnished with any wires, but only a representation of them in steel rods. The company being seated, the inventor applied a key to a small aperture in the body of the instrument, giving it a few turns representative of the act of winding it up, and music was instantly heard, as if proceeding from the suspended lyre. As the sounds continued, they varied in their effect, and seemed to form a combination of the visible lyre with a conical piano-forte and a dulcimer. By these united tones, a variety of difficult compositions were executed; and the whole performance occupied about an hour. This singular experiment was founded on the general principle by which sound is conducted, and the application of xhich is vertainly capable of being carried to a much greater extent; and might be made to include even the mixed and multifarious tones of a complete orchestra. ». (Thomas Busby, 1825)« The Enchanted Lyre and the Diaphonicon.Mr. Wheatstone, of the North Colonnade, Opera House, has opened an exhibition which has excited considerable sensation among the lovers of music, and the curious in matters relating to natural philosophy; and the ingenuity of both as hitherto endeavoured in vain to solve the mystery of Mr. W.’s invention. The “Enchanted Lyre” consists of the “semblance” of an antique lyre, suspended from the ceiling, without any other apparent communication with surrounding objects. After being wound up - a “pro forma” operation, evidently intented for the sake of illusion, or with the view of conveying a signal to a performer in an adjoining room - the interior of the lyre “seems” to perform pieces of great difficulty. We are convinced at once that it is not the lyre which gives us the musical treat, but that a skilful player in somewhere else occupied in entertaining and puzzling us. Nevertheless, on approaching the lyre, and holding the ear close to it, we are equally assured that the sound proceeds from the belly of the lyre itself. In this dilemna we are left to conclude that the sound is conducted into the lyre; but the means of this harmonic introduction have as yet eluded the most minute investigation. The “Diaphonicon” is not an instrument of itself, but merely an apparatus for increasing the force of sound by some acosutical means hitherto not put in practice. As this invention is likely hereafter to lead to important results, we shall briefly describe the apparatus we have seen. A small piano-forte, with one string onlu to each note, is played upon in a cabinet constructed for the purpose, immediately adjoining the saloon, in which latter the sound is heard with an intensity of force, not only greatly surpassing the loudness of the best grand piano-forte, but altogether more full, and richer in point of tone. The same effect is produced, if a flute or violin be played in the cabinet, of if an air be sung by the human voice. Here therefore, Mr. W. furnishes a proof of the general applicability of the principle of his invention; and, as our expectations of greater and more important results are rather sanguine, we hope his endeavours will meet the encouragement which they really merit. He has it in contemplation to give a concert with a full orchestra upon the diaphonic principle; and the effect of such an experiment will be a matter of high interest, both in musical and scientific point of view. ». (In The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, Vol. VI, 1 May 1822, pp. 201-202. London : Henry Colburn and Co.)An eminent foreign performer on the violoncello came to England, bringing a letter of introduction to Wheatstone. He left the letter at the house, and appointed to call at a particular hour on the following day. Wheatstone was at home to receive him, and, thinking to surprise and amuse his visitor, hung a violoncello on the wall of the passage, having a rod behind it to connect it with another, which was to be played from within when he entered the hall. The guest turned in every direction to find whence the sounds came, and, at last, approaching the violoncello hanging on the wall, and, having satisfied himself that they proceeded from it, although there was neither hand nor bow to play upon it, he rushed out of the house in affright, and would never enter it again ! Wheatstone also made the invention a source of domestic amusement, by fitting up a lyre in a small boudoir, connecting it by a rod through the ceiling with a pianoforte in the room above and his daughter was wont to amuse friends by playing unseen on the piano by means of the apparatus below. (William Tegg, p. 289)
French comment : « L’Acoucryptophone, ou Lyre Enchantée.Ce nouvel instrument a été entendu à Londres en 1822. Il a attiré l’attention de tous les amis de l’art musical. Sa construction prouve une profonde connaissance des effets de l’acoustique, et fait infiniment d’honneur à M. C. Wheatstone son inventeur. La forme de l’”acoucryptophone” est celle d’une lyre antique d’une grande dimension. Il était suspendu au plafond par une corde de soie dans la salle où il était exposé aux regards du public. L’instrument n’était point pourvu de cordes effectives; elles étaient seulement simulées par des filets d’acier. Le public étant assis, l’inventeur appliquait une clef à une petite ouverture pratiquée dans le corps de l’instrument, la tournait plusieurs fois comme lorsqu’on monte une montre, et aussitôt l’harmonie se faisait entendre et semblait provenir de la lyre enchantée. Peu à peu les sons paraissaient s’unir à ceux d’un piano de forme conique et à deux d’un tympanon, et formaient ainsi une variété de sons qui facilitait l’exécution de morceaux très difficiles. La séance durait à peu près une heure. Cette singulière expérience, dit un écrivain anglais, était fondée sur le principe de la communication des vibrations. L’application de ce principe pourrait conduire à de grands résultats. Il ne serait peut-être pas impossible d’imiter d’une manière satisfaisante les sons diversifiés d’un orchestre. ». (In Revue Musicale, Tome 3, publiée par M. F.J. Fétis, p. 441, Paris)Transmission à travers les corps solides.Les corps élastiques solides propagent aussi le son. Dans les expériences relatives à la transmission du son dans l’air, les vibrations, imprimées au gaz qui remplit l’appareil, se propagent au dehors à travers les parois solides du récipient ou du ballon. On entend, d’une chambre, les sons produits dans la chambre contigüe, toutes les ouvertures étant fermées. Le bruit du canon peut se distinguer à une distance de plus de 40 kilomètres, quand on appuie son oreille par terre; la transmission se faisant par les matières solides qui composent le sol. Si l’on met de petites pierres sur un tambour posé par terre, on les voit légèrement sauter, quand il passe de la cavalerie à une distance même assez grande; et si l’on appuie alors l’oreille par terre, on entend une espèce de roulement sourd, dû aux vibrations imprimées au sol par les pieds des chevaux. Deux mineurs qui creusent des galeries opposées s’entendent mutuellement, et peuvent ainsi se diriger l’un vers l’autre. Dans les mines d’étain de Cornouailles, en Angleterre, il y a des galeries qui s’étendent sous la mer, et l’on distingue, à travers l’épaisseur des voûtes, le bruit des flots, et celui que produisent les galets en s’entrechoquant. M. Wheatstone a fait assez récemment une expérience très curieuse. Quatre longues tringles en sapin, de 2 centimètres de diamètre, s’appuient par leur extrémité inférieure, la première sur la table d’harmonie d’un piano, la seconde sur le chevalet d’un violon, la troisième sur celui d’un violoncelle, et la quatrième sur la base de l’anche d’une clarinette. Ces instruments sont placés dans une cave, dont les tringles traversent la voûte, de manière que leur extrémité supérieure se trouve dans une chambre élevée de l’édifice, où elles soutiennet des caisses renforçantes en bois mince et élastique. Quand les instruments sont joués, ensemble ou séparément, leurs vibrations sont communiquées aux caisses par l’intermédiaire des tringles, et l’on entend la musique du petit orchestre, avec tous ses caractères et sans qu’il y ait aucune confusion. Vient-on à séparer une des tringles de la caisse qu’elle soutient, on n’entend plus l’instrument qui lui correspond; l’extrémité de la tringle frappant l’air par une trop grande étendue. Citons encore quelques expériences faciles à répéter : [...] Deux personnes parlant très bas, et tenant entre leurs dents les extrémités d’une baguette ou d’un fil, s’entendent à une très grande distance; celle qui parle peut aussi appuyer l’extrémité de la baguette sur la poitrine, sans changer sensiblement l’intensité du son transmis. [...] On fait entendre les sourds-muets par les dents, quand la surdité ne provient que du défaut des organes extérieurs. L’abbé Cot, en parlant dans un tuyau dont le sourd serre le bord entre ses dents, lui fait entendre des mots qu’il peut répéter aussitôt. En serrant les bords d’une boîte à musique avec les dents, les sourds-muets entendent les sons, et manifestent une joie et un ravissement qui prouvent qu’ils sont sensibles aux charmes de la musique. M. Strauss Durkheim paraît avoir le premier fait entendre des sourds-muets par l’intermédiaire des dents, les faisant participer ainsi à l’exercice d’un sens dont ils soupçonnaient à peine l’existence. (Pierre Adolphe Daguin, “Traité Élémentaire de Physique Théorique et Expérimentale avec les applications à météorologie et aux arts industriels”, 2nd édition, Tome 1, pp. 452-453, Toulouse : Privat, 1861)Wheatstone était né près de Gloucester, en Angleterre, dans l’année 1802. Il était fils d’un simple marchand de cette ville et fut élevé dans une école privée où il se fit remarquer de bonne heure par ses aptitudes pour les sciences mathématiques et mécaniques. Il s’établit dans sa ville natale comme fabricant d’instruments de musique, métier qui lui permit d’utiliser et de développer ses goûts scientifiques. En 1823, il quitta Gloucester pour venir s’établir comme luthier, à Londres, où il ne tarda pas à se faire remarquer par le monde savant, car cette même année il fit paraître dans les “Philosophical Annals” sa première étude intitulée « Nouvelles expériences sur le son ». En 1827, il publia un rapport sur des . expériences d’acoustique et une description du kaleïdophone. Cet appareil contenait des principes que son inventeur devait développer plus tard dans l’invention d’un photomètre. En 1828, Wheatstone publia le résultat de ses expériences sur la vibration des colonnes d’air et, en 1831, une étude sur la transmission des sons à travers les solides dans laquelle il indiqua un moyen de transmettre les sons musicaux à des distances très-éloignées. L’année suivante, il exposa devant la British Association ses expériences sur l’analyse prismatique de la lumière électrique ; il constata que les rayons colorés caractéristiques dégagés par l’étincelle électrique différaient avec la nature des métaux chargés de livrer passage au courant. Il préluda ainsi à la grande découverte de l’analyse spectroscopique, laquelle a pris de nos jours un si vaste et si utile développement. En 1833, Wheatstone publia un rapport dans lequel il traita la question des dessins formés par le sable sur les surfaces vibrantes, appelés les figures de Cladin ; dans cette étude, qui valut à son auteur son admission dans les rangs de la Société royale de Londres, il exposa pour la première fois les lois qui gouvernent la formation de ces étranges dessins. (J. AYLMER)
Source : Anonymous (1824), The London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, etc., 1824, p. 748.
Source : Busby, Thomas. (1825). “Concert Room and Orchestra Anecdotes of Music and Musicians, Ancient and Modern”. Vol. I , (pp. 9-10). London : Clementi & Co, Knight & Lacey.
Source : Percy, Sholto & Percy, Reuben. (1826). “The Percy Anecdotes : Original and Select”. Vol. IX (“Instinct - Ingenuity”), (p. 161). BiblioBazaar, 2009.
Source : Ogston, J. and Bell, J.T. (1827), “Useful Arts”, In New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, Part III, Vol. XXI, London: Henry Colburn, New Burlington Street, March 1, 1827, p. 121.
Source : Munro, John (1891), “Heroes of the Telegraph”, Published by BiblioBazaar, 2008, Chapter 1, pp. 22-23, and Published by Icon Group International Inc (Webster’s French Thesaurus Edition), p. 14.
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.
Source : Pierre Adolphe Daguin, “Traité Élémentaire de Physique Théorique et Expérimentale avec les applications à météorologie et aux arts industriels”, 2nd édition, Tome 1, (pp. 452-453), Toulouse : Privat, 1861.
Source : Tegg, William (ca. 1923), “Posts & Telegraphs, Past and Present - With an Account of the Telephone and Phonograph”, Read Books, 2009, p. 289.
Urls : http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/tech/engineering/HeroesoftheTelegraph/chap2.html (last visited ) http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/projects/bluetelephone/html/part3.html (last visited ) http://www.gloubik.info/sciences/spip.php?article18 (last visited )

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