Article

From Scientific Instruments to Musical Instruments: The Tuning Fork, the Metronome, and the Siren

Myles W. Jackson

in The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195388947
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195388947.013.0056

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 From Scientific Instruments to Musical Instruments: The Tuning Fork, the Metronome, and the Siren

Show Summary Details

Preview

This article analyzes the ways in which nineteenth-century acoustical instruments that were meant to standardize musical performance and measure various dimensions of sound, such as pitch and beat, were a century later put to use as musical instruments themselves. Drawing upon a material cultural history of science and technology, it traces the ways in which the tuning fork, the metronome and the siren were redefined by their new roles as the generators rather than the quantifiers of musical qualities by exploring both the use of mechanical apparatus to standardize critical aspects of early nineteenth century music and the resulting debates surrounding what such standardization meant to the art. The article addresses the question of whether machines hinder or enhance expression and creative genius. Finally, it addresses the importance of sound in eighteenth and nineteenth century workshops, which is a topic often ignored by historians and sociologists of science and technology.

Keywords: acoustical instruments; musical performance; tuning fork; metronome; siren

Article.  10591 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Sound Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.