Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The limits of audible sound
Stone and Galton, Francis
such as you get in the lowest stopped diapason pipes of an organ ; 
but if this is what he means by saying that you cannot hear simple 
pendular vibrations below forty-one, he is simply saying that you 
cannot carry the stopped diapason down below forty-one vibrations, 
a much less extensive statement than to say that the ear cannot 
distinguish sounds below that. As a matter of fact, all the extreme 
bass instruments we make use of, perhaps unfortunately, have the 
upper partials very strong ; strong compared to the foundation note, 
but you can intensify the fundamental note by certain contrivances, 
especially those of consonance. On this I have spent a great deal of 
time myself. I have tried on a double bass. The double bass has 
been often before made to produce very low notes, and there is one, 
quite gigantic, on the other side of the building, which requires 
giant to play it ; the present race of pigmies had to stand on a 
a table. It produces a very fine tone in the low notes, but it would 
not suit this generation ; it needs sons of Anak to play upon it. 
Other attempts have been made to produce the low tone, by making 
the strings thicker ; but then you cannot get at the centre of gravity 
of a cylindrical string ; you must strike at the outer circumference, 
and these large strings rotate and produce false notes, not at all 
the tone that is wanted. There remained one thing which had not 
been done, and that is to work by weight. By covering the string very 
heavily with copper wire, and placing it on the double bass, I 
succeeded in getting a sound which I thought satisfactory. The tone 
contains a- great predominance of 16-foot vibration. I had to 
strengthen the double bass very considerably by what I term elliptical 
tension bars, so as to give it, in the first place, force enough to resist 
the enormous pull of this heavy string, and secondly to give it a 
sound-conductor. There was already a bar from end to end which 
tended to counteract the dumbing effect of the “S” holes, which are 
necessary, however, for letting out the air vibrations. If you will 
permit me to add presently to my unmusical illustrations, I think I 
can obtain a note from the double bass, which you will say is musical. 
Another attempt was in the wind department. We have here an 
instrument which some of you may know I habitually play, especially 
with Sir Michael Costa’s orchestra. I played it the other night at the 
Albert Hall. It is a reed instrument of 16 feet in length, the octave


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