NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1855 __ The Miniature Telephonic Concert
Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875)
Comment : On the 10th of May, 1855, a similar exhibition [than the Wheatstone's electric clock in 1840 and the Enchanted Lyre in 1821] [...] took place before Her Majesty the Queen, at the Polytechnic Institution, of which the only account that has been reproduced is that given by Mr. C.K. Salaman, in a letter to the "Choir" : "1. Lecture by J.H. Pepper, Esq., on Professor Wheastone's experiments on the transmission of musical sounds to distant places, illustrated by a Telephone concert, in which sounds of various instruments pass inaudible through an intermediate hall, and are reproduced in the lecture room, unchanged in their qualities and intensities. 2. A series of ancient keyed stringed instruments, including virginals, harpsichords, etc. will be performed on, and explained by Mr. Salaman. [...] The small theatre of the Institution was turned into an elegantly-furnished saloon, for the use of the Queen, Prince Albert, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, and suite. The Royal party occupied state chairs in the centre of the theatre. The platform was almost filled with speciments of virginals, harpsichords, and spinets, of various ages and forms, besides which was an ordinary harp, to the sounding-board of which a thin wooden rod of great length was attached. This communicated with an apartment at the lowest part of the Institution, in which were placed the instrumentalists, who performed some orchestral pieces of music, which were distinctly heard in the theatre above. (William Tegg, pp. 290-291)At the Polytechnic Sir Charles Wheastone very kindly superintented the arrangements of the rods passing through various apartments from the basement to the lecture-room, and subsequently had the pleasure of seeing the manner in which his beautiful experiments with four instruments and the sounding-boards of four harps, called the "telephonic concert", wer appreciated by Her Majesty, the late lamented Prince Consort, H.R.H the Prince of Wales, and the younger members of the Royal Family. [...] A very pretty illustration of Wheastone's experiments with the transmission of vibrations through solid conductors may be performed by constructing a series of boxes [The Miniature Telephonic Concert : a stick passed through the boxes and touching the musical box at one end, whilst the other is pressed against the sounding-board of some instrument], to fit within the other, the last to contain a musical box resting on a few folds of baize. The latter, whilst playing, is shut up in the other boxes, and the sound gradually dies away ; it is, however, immediately brought back into the room by thrusting a long wooden rod through the holes made in the boxes, and, of course, superimposed upon each other. Directly the end of the rid touches the musical box, the hand instantly feels the vibrations, and the sound is now partially heard, becoming quite loud when the sounding-board of a violin, or, better still, that of a harp lute, is pressed lightly down on the end of the wooden rod. Gas and water are supplied to our dwellings, and may be turned on or off at pleasure ; so it is with the musical sounds,.they become audible or inaudible as the sounding-board is applied or removed. (John Henry Pepper, 1863, pp. 524-525)
Source : Kingsbury, John E. (1915), "The telephone and telephone exchanges: their invention and development", Longmans, Green, and Co., 1915, pp. 11-12.
Source : Pepper, John Henry (1869), "Cyclopædic science simplified", London : Frederick Warne and Co, pp. 524-525.
Source : Pepper, John Henry (1873), "Pneumatics: Embracing the air-pump and the diving-bell"; London : Frederick Warne and Co., p. 93.
Source : Tegg, William (ca. 1923), “Posts & Telegraphs, Past and Present - With an Account of the Telephone and Phonograph”, Read Books, 2009, pp. 290-291.

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