“Helmholtz Resonators By Rudolph Koenig”. n.d. Cleveland, OH: Case Western Reserve University.
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.

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

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


A scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator who is credited with patenting the first practical telephone.


Picture: CC0 | Wikimedia

University of Michigan,. (25 July 2014AD) 2014. “Siren Disk Demo – The Musical Scale”. Houghton, Michigan: Michigan Technological University.
Contributor essay
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