Marin Mersenne, often referred to as the father of modern acoustics, lived in Paris for most of his life but was in contact with scholars from all over Europe. Born in 1604, he attended the Jesuit College in La Flèche, one of France’s most prestigious schools for the cultural, political, and ecclesiastical elite. He then studied theology at the Sorbonne and the Collège Royal. In 1611, he abandoned his studies to enter the mendicant Order of Minims. He took up residence at the order’s monastery on the Place Royale, Paris, in 1619.
The silk manufacturer Johann Heinrich Scheibler invented a method to tune keyboards with unprecedented accuracy, applying principles that he had developed in his textile factory. His technique involved a set of tuning forks called a tonometer, a chronometer, and the counting of beats. It aimed to deskill tuning so that anyone could achieve precise tuning regardless of their musical ear. He explained his invention in Der physikalische und musikalische Tonmesser of 1834.
Alexander John Ellis was born Alexander John Sharpe on June 14, 1814, in Hoxton, Middlesex, and died in London on October 28, 1890. He studied mathematics and philology at Trinity College Cambridge, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1837. Ellis later became a phonetician, whose work in vocal and musical pitch, speech, and song also influenced the field of musicology. Among his most important contributions were the annotated translation of Hermann von Helmholtz’s On the Sensations of Tone and his development of the notion of cent for musical intervals.
Son of a musician and a voice teacher, Pierre Schaeffer received a Catholic education, practiced theater as a boy scout, and learned to play the cello at the conservatory in Nancy. He chose to pursue engineering, gaining admission to the Polytechnique in 1929, where he continued his work in theater, followed by studies at the Supélec (top-ranked graduate school for electrical engineering).
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