Tag Archives: Acoustics

Singing flames

 

As early as the 18th century physicists were experimenting with tones produced by the effect  of flames on nearby glass tubes, and in 1873 the physicist Georges Frédéric Eugène Kastner developed a keyboard pyrophone.

More recently, singing flames have been featured in mixed media works by artists such as Andreas Oldörp, whose Singende Flammen (1988) was installed in a preexisting tunnel beneath Hamburg’s Hans-Albers-Platz. Composers who have used singing flames in their work include Alvin Lucier.

This according to “Singende Flammen: Andreas Oldörps Arbeiten zwischen Experiment und Installation” by Volker Straebel (Neue Zeitschrift für Musik CLX/2 [März-April 1999] pp. 45–47).

Above, Kastner’s pyrophone; below, two views of singing flames in Sydney’s Darling Harbour in 2011.

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Filed under Acoustics, Curiosities, Instruments, Science

Vinko Dvořák and Croatian musical life

The acoustic physicist Vinko Dvořák was a gifted violinist and a tireless promoter of music in Croatia. As a member of the board of the Hrvatski Glazbeni Zavod between 1913 and 1919, he took an active part in organizing and financing musical events, and the Zavod za Fiziku at the Sveučilište u Zagrebu, where he was a professor of physics, owned an extensive collection of musical forks and instruments.

Dvořák kept encouraging young Croatians to develop and succeed in music until his death, and in his will he left a notable amount of money for the education of promising music students.

This according to “Vinko Dvořák: Fizičar sa sluhom za glazbu i glazbeno darovita duša u fizici” by Branko Hanžek (Tonovi: Časopis glazbenih pedagoga XV/2:36 [prosinac 2000] pp. 41–43).

Today is Dvořák’s 170th birthday! Below, a tour of the Hrvatski Glazbeni Zavod, which still looks much like it did in Dvořák’s time.

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19th-century acoustical research

manometric capsule

The 19th century was a golden age for the invention of acoustical research instruments—tools for measuring audible frequencies or the speed of sound, or for making sound visible.

Advancements in instrument making and voice physiology paralleled advancements in sound recording, reproduction, and transmission. Apparatuses developed during that time included tuning forks, sirens, sonorous pipes, singing and sensitive flames, manometric capsules, and resonators.

This according to “1800–1900: Un secolo di strumenti per lo studio dell’acustica/1800–1900: A century of instruments for the study of acoustics” by Paolo Brenni, an essay included in L’acustica e suoi strumenti: La collezione dell’Istituto Tecnico Toscano/Acoustics and its instruments: The collection of the Istituto Tecnico Toscano (Firenze: Giunti, 2001, pp. 57–72).

Above, a manometric capsule; below, Professor Henry Higgins demonstrates a sensitive flame, using a rotating mirror for isolating the flame’s oscillations.

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Journal of sonic studies

Launched in 2011, Journal of sonic studies provides a platform for theorists and artists to share relevant work regarding the sonic environment.

JSS presents, stimulates, and brings together a versatility of possible approaches; that is why it pays attention to the sonic design of consumer articles (cars, washing machines, coffee-makers) as well as to the influence of hearing on the relation between mother and fetus; to urban noise pollution as well as the use of sonic weapons in war zones; to interventions in public space by sound artists as well as the effects of background music in shopping malls.

JSS advocates multidisciplinary research and is open for knowledge from various fields of study—from history to philosophy, sociology and anthropology; from medical studies to architecture, legal and technical sciences; from ecology to sound art, performance and media studies; and so on.

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Cowshed soundscaping

Cows respond strongly to changes in the muted, subliminal strata of the cowshed soundscape; the elimination of such sounds, or their masking through music and other designed sound foregrounds, causes pronounced disturbances in the animals’ physiology and behavior.

A positive soundscaping for cowsheds must take advantage of the subjective implications of sounds such as the first moo of a newborn calf, which carries the strongest psychological impact even if it cannot be described as aesthetically beautiful.

This according to “The blessed noise and little moo: Aspects of soundscape in cowsheds” by Maru Pöyskö, an essay included in Soundscapes: Essays on vroom and moo (Tampere: Tampereen Yliopisto, Kansanperinteen Laitos, 1994). Below, a newborn calf demonstrates the little moo.

Related article: Radio for cows

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Filed under Acoustics, Animals, Curiosities, Nature, Science