Letter | Published:

Photophonic Music

Nature volume 23, page 124 | Download Citation



I HAVE not yet met with any reference to the capabilities of the photophone for giving musical harmonies. Might not some curious effects be got in some such way as this:—Suppose a disk perforated with holes in four concentric circles corresponding to the notes of a chord; a beam of light to be sent through each circle to a lens and disk of rubber with tube (as Prof. Bell has described), the four tubes debouching in a cup-shaped cavity to be applied to the ear; lastly, the disk to be rotated variably by means of a small windmill or otherwise. Another arrangement might be to make the beams of light pass through the holes to selenium cells in four telephone circuits, the four telephones being placed in one frame, against which the listener's ear would be put, or coupled in pairs, one pair put to either ear. Again, might not harmonised tunes be obtained thus:—Suppose a broad open drum of wood or cardboard rotated uniformly on a screw forming a vertical axis. The drum is perforated in a spiral band of four lines of holes (for the light), corresponding to the notes of the harmonised air to be produced. This spiral band passes before four rubber disks or selenium cells (as in the former system), but arranged vertically and placed within the drum, at the lower part. The drum, it will be understood, works gradually down the axis, presenting a continuous four-line series of holes before the receiving apparatus. Again, a long continuous strip of cardboard, with four rows of holes, might be passed before the receiver in any convenient way.

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