Mechanical Music Digest  Archives
You Are Not Logged In Login/Get New Account
Please Log In. Accounts are free!
Logged In users are granted additional features including a more current version of the Archives and a simplified process for submitting articles.
Home Archives Calendar Gallery Store Links Info
MMD > Archives > May 2000 > 2000.05.18 > 03Prev  Next


Scientific Musical Instrument Challenge
By Mark Kinsler

>[ But why is Ben Franklin's 'Armonica' considered scientific?  One
>[ could also sound a saucer bell with a rosined bow.  What's the
>[ difference if an organ pipe is designed using scientific methods
>[ versus "cut and try?"  -- Robbie

Good question, and I'm afraid that the answer isn't very satisfactory:
the instrument was scientific because it was designed by a scientist,
i.e., a "gentleman" under the old class system.  A musician, and
particularly a musical instrument maker, is _not_ a "gentleman" --
he is an artist or tradesman, and would take his meals in the kitchen
with the other tradesmen and servants.

These traditions are persistent.  The popular press is still amused
when a scientist designs or even plays a musical instrument.

In my younger days I designed a fairly horrible violin.  I could build
a duplicate and probably get some good publicity, because I now have a
doctorate in electrical engineering.

The newspapers would love it: "High Voltage Engineer Designs Improved
Violin."  The instrument, with its resonator made of a plastic cup,
would be considered somehow superior to conventional instruments -- but
only by virtue of my academic degrees.

If the same instrument, or a better one, was made by a homeless
musician, it would be considered "folk art," at best.

Mark Kinsler
http://www.frognet.net/~kinsler

 [ Joshua C. Stoddard demonstrated his self-playing steam calliope in
 [ 1856.  Nothing like it existed before, but since he was a beekeeper,
 [ not an esteemed organ maker, his instrument must be folk art.
 [ Nobody ever called a calliope a "scientific musical instrument" --
 [ it's too loud for genteel ears!  Thank goodness that musical
 [ instruments are judged by the music-loving audience, not a
 [ gentleman scientist or newspaper.  -- Robbie


(Message sent Thu 18 May 2000, 13:37:29 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Challenge, Instrument, Musical, Scientific

Home    Archives    Calendar    Gallery    Store    Links    Info   


Enter text below to search the MMD Website with Google



CONTACT FORM: Click HERE to write to the editor, or to post a message about Mechanical Musical Instruments to the MMD

Unless otherwise noted, all opinions are those of the individual authors and may not represent those of the editors. Compilation copyright 1995-2019 by Jody Kravitz.

Please read our Republication Policy before copying information from or creating links to this web site.

Click HERE to contact the webmaster regarding problems with the website.

Please support publication of the MMD by donating online

Pay via PayPal

No PayPal account required

                                     
Translate This Page

. .