Object, Instrument, Technology

The sound synthesiser was Helmholtz’s clearest instrumental expression of his theory of timbre, or sound quality. Whereas his spherical resonators dissected compound sounds (vowels or musical sounds) into elemental frequencies, the synthesiser did this by building up complex sounds from simple frequencies. In 1857 he went to the instrument maker Friedrich Fessel of Cologne to turn this idea into reality. The initial instruments used a combination of electrically driven tuning forks, resonators and piano keys to synthesise compound sounds.

Audio
Scherchen, Herrmann. n.d. “Der Einfluß Des Mikrophons Auf Die Tönende Botschaft - Side B”.
Audio
n.d. “Das Teilspektrum Der Glocke - Side A”.
Contributor essay
by
Paolo Brenni

The scientific instruments used for research and teaching in the nineteenth and early twentieth century are beautiful and fascinating artifacts.

Contributor essay
by
David Pantalony; Erich Weidenhammer; Victoria Fisher

The University of Toronto acoustics collection consists of a comprehensive series of instruments made in the Parisian workshop of Rudolph Koenig (1832

Object, Instrument, Technology

The double siren was one of Koenig’s more popular instruments. It consisted of two “polyphonic” or “multivoiced” sirens with more than one series of holes, and was an invention of the German physicist and former teacher of Hermann von Helmholtz, Heinrich Wilhelm Dove (1803–1879). It produced several pure tones simultaneously, in musical chords, and under greater pressure. It was ideal for demonstrating interference effects (when sound waves combined to amplify or diminish each other) and combination tones. [Pantalony 2009, 184-185]

Videos

Image
“Helmholtz Resonators By Rudolph Koenig”. n.d. Cleveland, OH: Case Western Reserve University.
Audio
2013. “24576_1876-469_Tone-Limit-App_1”.
Object, Instrument, Technology

Tone-limit apparatus, for high notes of high pitch.

Made by G. Appunn & Sons.

 

            This apparatus was designed for determining the highest vibration-frequency which is recognized by the ear as a musical tone. It consists of 31 small tuning forks, giving the diatonic scale