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Instruments de Musique: Le Télharmonium

Nature volume 101, page 164 (02 May 1918) | Download Citation



THIS little book is characteristic of the clear exposition of a well-informed French author when he has thoroughly mastered the subject. All the phenomena of sound are briefly dealt with in such a manner that he who runs may read. The chapters include the production and propagation of sound, a short discussion of the laws of vibration of cords, plates, and tubes, the intimate nature of musical sounds, and a study of musical scales. Then follows a summary description of the more common instruments of music; this chapter will be of great use to the amateur who desires to know the principles on which his favourite instrument is constructed. The last chapter is on a new instrument, the tel-harmonium, and is the novel part of the book; it is the description of an electric organ by which, and by electrical means alone, a synthesis is possible of any musical sound however complex. The tones so produced are developed, by telephone. Alternating currents produce electric generators of tone, and these are superposed on the diaphragm of a telephone. A keyboard controls the tones of seven generators, and by resistance arrangements the intensity of any generator may be modified. In this way it is said that the qualities of the chief instruments of the orchestra, such as the clarinet, the oboe, the cor anglais, the violoncello, and others, can be reproduced with such accuracy as to satisfy the musical sense of a musician who is unaware of the origin of the sounds. Evidently the manipulation of the instrument must be difficult.

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