Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

On the sensations of tone as a physiological basis for the study of music. Translated with the author's sanction from the third German edition, with additional notes and an additional appendix by Alexander J. Ellis
Helmholtz, Hermann von
Chap. XIX. 
Let us review the results of the preceding investigation. 
Compound tones of a certain class are preferred for all kinds of 
music, melodic or harmonic ; and are almost exclusively employed 
for the more delicate and artistic development of music : these are 
the compound tones which have harmonic upper partial tones, that 
is compound tones in which the higher partial tones have vibrational 
numbers which are integral multiples of the vibrational number 
of the lowest partial tone, or prime. For a good musical effect we 
require a certain moderate degree of force in the five or six lowest 
partial tones, and a low degree of force in the higher partial tones. 
This class of compound tones with harmonic upper partials 
is objectively distinguished by including all resonant motions 
which are generated by a mechanical process that continues to act 
uniformly, and which consequently produce a uniform and sustained 
sensation. In the first rank among them stand the compound 
tones of the human voice, man’s first musical instrument in time 
and value. The compound tones of all wind and bowed instruments 
belong to this class. 
Among the bodies which are made to emit tones by striking, 
some, as strings, have also harmonic upper partials, and these can 
be used for artistic music. 
The greater number of the rest, as membranes, rods, plates, &c., 
have inharmonic upper partial tones, and only such of them as 
have not very strong secondary tones of this kind can be singly 
and occasionally employed in connection with musical instruments 
Although resonant bodies excited by blows may continue to 
sound for some time, their tones do not continue with uniform force, 
but diminish more or less slowly and die away. Constant power 
over the intensity of tone, therefore, which is indispensable for 
expressive performance, can only be attained on instruments of the


Sehr geehrte Benutzer,

aufgrund der aktuellen Entwicklungen in der Webtechnologie, die im Goobi viewer verwendet wird, unterstützt die Software den von Ihnen verwendeten Browser nicht mehr.

Bitte benutzen Sie einen der folgenden Browser, um diese Seite korrekt darstellen zu können.

Vielen Dank für Ihr Verständnis.