Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

§ 3. Varieties of Air-waves and their Equivalents in 
We have seen that air-waves, originally set in motion by 
the impact of one body upon another, impinge upon the ear, 
through the mechanism of the tympanum and the labyrinth, 
set up sympathetic vibrations in the elastic bodies which are 
attached to the terminals of the nerves, and thus communi¬ 
cate a stimulation to the fibres themselves. The impulse so 
imparted to the auditory centre is there subjectively cognized 
as Sound. We have next to enquire what are the various 
modes of aerial undulation, and what the corresponding 
varieties of Sounds. 
The first great distinction between air-waves is the one 
already drawn of those which are produced by a single im¬ 
pact and those which are produced by the continuous vibra¬ 
tion of an elastic body. The latter are periodic and regular, 
the former non-periodic and irregular. But if the ear is to 
be differentially excited by these different stimulants, and so 
to cognize them separately, it must have special organs for 
the perception of each ; and the appendages of these special 
organs must be set in sympathetic motion by one or the 
other kind of stimulant respectively. Now we find in ex¬ 
ternal nature that some bodies are readily set in motion by 
irregular and non-periodic waves, but that such bodies only 
continue in motion for comparatively short periods, instead 
of vibrating freely for a considerable time : while on the 
other hand certain other elastic bodies are not set in motion 
by non-periodic waves, but only answer to undulations whose


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