Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

On sound and atmospheric vibrations, with the mathematical elements of music
Airy, George Biddell
In the ordinary state of ease, the vocal ligaments are 
not stretched longitudinally with any special force, and 
the ends of the right ligament and those of the left 
ligament are not pressed together. There are, in fact, 
special muscles for separating them, which in the state 
of personal ease appear to be in action, effecting that 
separation. The opening is then sufficiently wide to 
allow the breath to pass very freely ; and the ligaments, 
in their unstretched state, will not vibrate. 
For producing sound, other muscles are brought into 
play, namely, 1st, muscles which press together (but 
probably not close together) the ends of the two liga¬ 
ments: 2nd, muscles which extend each ligament to any 
arbitrary degree of tension. 
In this state, when air is forced from the lungs 
through the glottis, necessarily passing with great 
rapidity (as the chink is now very narrow), it puts the 
ligaments into vibration, sufficiently rapid to produce a 
musical note. The pitch of the precise note produced 
will depend on the tension given to the ligaments. So 
that, for utterance of a musical sound, two systems of 
muscular action are required. One, consequent on the 
volition “to utter a musical sound” is that of drawing 
close together the right ligament and the left ligament ; 
the other, consequent on the volition “to utter a musical 
sound of a particular pitch,” is that of stretching the 
ligaments to a definite tension. 
This action may be imitated experimentally in 
various ways, of which we quote, as probably the easiest


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