Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The science of musical sounds
Miller, Dayton Clarence
Two recent publications on this subject arrive at opposite 
conclusions. Professor Bevier of Rutgers College in one of 
the most complete studies yet made (1900-1905),84 using 
the phonograph as an instrument of analysis, arrives at con¬ 
clusions in accord with Helmholtz’s fixed-resonance theory 
and the method of harmonic analysis. Professor Scripture 
(1906), formerly of Yale University, says: “the overtone 
theory of the vowels cannot be correct”; and he gives ex¬ 
tended arguments in support of this opinion and opposed 
to harmonic analysis of vowels.85 The results of the work 
here described are in entire agreement with Helmholtz’s 
theory, and they are, therefore, out of harmony with Scrip¬ 
ture’s arguments.86 
Standard Vowel Tones and Words 
Vowels are speech sounds which can be continuously in¬ 
toned, separated from the combinations and noises by which 
they are made into words. A dictionary definition of a 
vowel is: “one of the openest, most resonant, and continu- 
able sounds uttered by the voice in the process of speaking; 
a sound in which the element of tone is predominant; a 
tone-sound, as distinguished from a fricative (rustling 
sound), from a mute (explosive), and so on.” 
Helmholtz specifies seven vowels, the “Century Diction¬ 
ary” gives nineteen vowel sounds in its key to pronunciation, 
while some writers on phonetics tabulate as many as seventy- 
two vowel sounds. After preliminary study, eight standard 
vowels contained in the following words were selected for 
definitive analysis: father, raw, no, gloom, mat, pet, they, 
and bee. 
The particular vowels specified are according to the pro¬ 
nunciation of the author. It must be remembered that 


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