On the Process of Tone-making in Organ-pipes


THE natural order of harmonic progression in an open organ-pipe is well known. That there is from the same pipe an inverse order of harmonics equally natural is not equally well known. There is no intimation that I am aware of, in any treatise on sound, of this fact having been observed, and the absence of recognition is no doubt attributable to a general disregard of the study of the comparative acoustics of musical instruments. My investigations into the process of tone-making in organ-pipes and other instruments have clearly shown me that there is an order of transitive harmonics distinct from the order of concomitant harmonics or “over-tones.” Why I call them “transitive” will be apparent in the argument. Certain it is that our mimaphonic power in organ-pipes and in other musical devices depends on the command we can ensure over these two orders distinctively, and also on their comparative influences on the tones produced. In this manifestation of an inversion of harmonic progression, the nature, and, without extravagance one may say, the individuality, of the aë roplastic reed is most fully pronounced. Experimental proof is easily obtained, and, whilst bringing into prominence the peculiar display, will at the same time furnish indubitable evidence of the formative power exercised by the air-reed in the process of tone-making.

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SMITH, H. On the Process of Tone-making in Organ-pipes. Nature 10, 481–482 (1874). https://doi.org/10.1038/010481c0

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