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Experiments in consort touching the motion of sounds, in what lines they are circular, oblique, straight, upwards, downwards, forwards, backwards.
201. ALL sounds whatsoever move round; that is to say, on all sides: upwards, downwards, forwards, and backwards. This appeareth in all instances.
202. Sounds do not require to be conveyed to the sense in a right line, as visibles do, but may be arched; though it be true they move strongest in a right line; which nevertheless is not caused by the rightness of the line, but by the shortness of the distance; "linea recta brevissima." And therefore we see if a wall be between, and you speak on the one side, you hear it on the other; which is not because the sound passeth through the wall, but archeth over the wall.
203. If the sound be stopped and repercussed, it cometh about on the other side in an oblique line. So, if in a coach one side of the boot be down, and the other up, and a beggar beg on the close side; you will think that he were on the open side. So likewise, if a bell or clock be, for example, on the north side of a chamber, and the window of that chamber be upon the south; he that is in the chamber will think the sound came from the south.
204. Sounds, though they spread round, so that there is an orb or spherical area of the sound, yet they move strongest, and go farthest in the forelines, from the first local impulsion of the air. And therefore, in preaching, you shall hear the preacher's voice better before the pulpit than behind it, or on the sides, though it stand open. So a harquebuss, or ordnance, will be farther heard forwards from the mouth of the piece, than backwards, or on the sides.
205. It may be doubted, that sounds do move better downwards than upwards. Pulpits are placed high above the people. And when the ancient generals spake to their armies, they had ever a mount of turf cast up, whereupon they stood; but this may be imputed to the stops and obstacles which the voice meeteth with, when one speaketh upon the level. But there seemeth to be more in it; for it may be that spiritual species, both of things visible and sounds, do move better downwards than upwards. It is a strange thing, that to men standing below on the ground, those that be on the top of Paul's seem much less than they are, and cannot be known; but to men above, those below seem nothing so much lessened, and may be known: yet it is true, that all things to them above seem also somewhat contracted, and better collected into figures: as knots in gardens show best from an upper window or
206. But to make an exact trial of it, let a man stand in a chamber not much above the ground, and speak out at the window, through a trunk, to one standing on the ground, as softly as he can, the other laying his ear close to the trunk; then "via versa," let the other speak below, keeping the same proportion of softness; and let him in the chamber lay his ear to the trunk: and this may be the aptest means to make a judgment, whether sounds descend or ascend better.
Experiments in consort touching the lasting and perishing of sounds; and touching the time they require to their generation or delation.
207. After that sound is created, which is in a moment, we find it continueth some small time, melting by little and little. In this there is a wonderful error amongst men, who take this to be a continuance of the first sound; whereas, in truth, it is a renovation, and not a continuance; for the body percussed hath, by reason of the percussion, a trepidation wrought in the minute parts, and so reneweth the percussion of the air. This appeareth manifestly, because that the melting sound of a bell, or of a string strucken, which is thought to be a continuance, ceaseth as soon as the bell or string are touched. As in a virginal, as soon as ever the jack falleth, and toucheth the string, the sound ceaseth; and in a bell, after you have chimed upon it, if you touch the bell the sound ceaseth. And in this you must distinguish that there are two trepidations: the one manifest and local; as of the bell when it is pensile: the other secret, of the minute parts; such as is described in the ninth instance. But it is true, that the local helpeth the secret greatly. We see likewise that in pipes, and other wind instruments, the sound lasteth no longer than the breath bloweth. It is true, that in organs there is a confused murmur for a while after you have played; but that is but while the bellows are in falling.
208. It is certain, that in the noise of great ordnance, where many are shot off together, the sound will be carried, at the least, twenty miles upon the land, and much farther upon the water. But then it will come to the ear, not in the instant of the shooting off, but it will come an hour or more later. This must needs be a continuance of the first sound; for there is no trepidation which should renew it. And the touching of the ordnance would not extinguish the sound the sooner: so that in great sounds the continuance is more than momentary.
209. To try exactly the time wherein sound is delated, let a man stand in a steeple, and have with him a taper; and let some veil be put before the taper; and let another man stand in a field a
mile off. Then let him in the steeple strike the bell; and in the same instant withdraw the veil; and so let him in the field tell by his pulse what distance of time there is between the light seen, and the sound heard: for it is certain that the delation of light is in an instant. This may be tried in far greater distances, allowing greater lights and sounds.
210. It is generally known and observed that light and the object of sight move swifter than sound: for we see the flash of a piece is seen sooner than the noise is heard. And in hewing wood, if one be some distance off, he shall see the arm lifted up for a second stroke, before he hear the noise of the first. And the greater the distance, the greater is the prevention: as we see in thunder which is far off, where the lightning precedeth the crack a good space.
211. Colours, when they represent themselves to the eye, fade not, nor melt not by degrees, but appear still in the same strength; but sounds melt and vanish by little and little. The cause is, for that colours participate nothing with the motion of the air, but sounds do. And it is a plain argument, that sound participateth of some local motion of the air, as a cause "sine qua non," in that it perisheth so suddenly; for in every section or impulsion of the air, the air doth suddenly restore and reunite itself; which the water also doth, but nothing so swiftly.
touch of the sides. Take therefore a hawk's bell, the holes stopped up, and hang it by a thread within a bottle glass, and stop the mouth of the glass very close with wax; and then shake the glass, and see whether the bell give any sound at all, or how weak: but note, that you must instead of the thread take a wire; or else let the glass have a great belly; lest when you shake the bell, it dash upon the sides of the glass.
214. It is plain, that a very long and downright arch for the sound to pass, will extinguish the sound quite; so that that sound, which would be heard over a wall, will not be heard over a church; nor that sound, which will be heard if you stand some distance from the wall, will be heard if you stand close under the wall.
215. Soft and foraminous bodies, in the first creation of the sound, will dead it: for the striking against cloth or fur will make little sound; as hath been said: but in the passage of the sound, they will admit it better than harder bodies; as we see, that curtains and hangings will not stay the sound much; but glass windows, if they be very close, will check a sound more than the like thickness of cloth. We see also in the rumbling of the belly, how easily the sound passeth through the guts and skin.
216. It is worthy the inquiry, whether great sounds, as of ordnance or bells, become not more weak and exile when they pass through small crannies. For the subtilties of articulate sounds,
Experiments in consort touching the passage and it may be, may pass through small crannies not
interceptions of sounds.
In the trials of the passage, or not passage of sounds, you must take heed you mistake not the passing by the sides of a body for the passing through a body; and therefore you must make the intercepting body very close; for sounds will pass through a small chink.
212. Where sound passeth through a hard or close body, as through water; through a wall; through metal, as in hawks' bells stopped, &c., the hard or close body must be but thin and small; for else it deadeth and extinguisheth the sound utterly. And therefore in the experiment in speaking in air under water, the voice must not be very deep within the water; for then the sound pierceth So if you speak on the farther side of a close wall, if the wall be very thick, you shall not be heard; and if there were a hogshead empty, whereof the sides were some two foot thick, and the bunghole stopped; I conceive the resounding sound, by the communication of the outward air with the air within, would be little or none: but only you shall hear the noise of the outward knock as if the vessel were full.
213. It is certain that in the passage of sounds through hard bodies the spirit or pneumatical part of the body itself doth co-operate; but much better when the sides of that hard body are struck, than when the percussion is only within, without
confused, but the magnitude of the sound, perhaps, not so well,
Experiments in consort touching the medium of
217. The mediums of sounds are air, soft and porous bodies, also water. And hard bodies refuse not altogether to be mediums of sounds. But all of them are dull and unapt deferents, except the air.
218. In air, the thinner or drier air carrieth not the sound so well as the more dense; as appeareth in night sounds and evening sounds, and sounds in moist weather and southern winds. The reason is already mentioned in the title of majoration of sounds; being for that thin air is better pierced; but thick air preserveth the sound better from waste: let further trial be made by hollowing in mists and gentle showers; for it may be that will somewhat dead the sound.
219. How far forth flame may be a medium of sounds, especially of such sounds as are created by air, and not betwixt hard bodies, let it be tried in speaking where a bonfire is between; but then you must allow for some disturbance the noise that the flame itself maketh.
220. Whether any other liquors, being made mediums, cause a diversity of sound from water, it may be tried: as by the knapping of the tongs;
or striking of the bottom of a vessel, filled either | ferior to that of silver or brass, but rather better: with milk or with oil; which, though they be more light, yet are they more unequal bodies than air.
yet we see that a piece of money of gold soundeth far more flat than a piece of money of silver.
223. The harp hath the concave not along the strings, but across the strings; and no instrument hath the sound so melting and prolonged as the Irish harp. So as I suppose, that if a virginal were made with a double concave, the one all the length, as the virginal hath, the other at the end of the strings, as the harp hath; it must needs make the sound perfecter, and not so shallow and jarring. You may try it without any sound-board along, but only harp-wise at one end of the strings; or lastly, with a double concave, at each end of the strings one.
Experiments in consort touching the mixture of
How the figures of pipes, or concaves, through which sounds pass, or of other bodies deferent, conduce to the variety and alteration of the sounds; either in respect of the greater quantity, or less 224. There is an apparent diversity between quantity of air which the concaves receive, or in the species visible and audible in this, that the respect of the carrying of sounds longer and visible doth not mingle in the medium, but the shorter way; or in respect of many other circum-audible doth. For if we look abroad, we see stances; they have been touched, as falling into heaven, a number of stars, trees, hills, men, beasts, other titles. But those figures which we are now at once. And the species of the one doth not conto speak of, we intend to be, as they concern the found the other. But if so many sounds came lines through which the sound passeth; as from several parts, one of them would utterly constraight, crooked, angular, circular, &c. found the other. So we see, that voices or con221. The figure of a bell partaketh of the pyra- sorts of music do make a harmony by mixture, mis, but yet coming off and dilating more sud- which colours do not. It is true nevertheless that denly. The figure of a hunter's horn and cornet a great light drowneth a smaller, that it cannot be is oblique; yet they have likewise straight horns; seen; as the sun that of a glow-worm; as well as if they be of the same bore with the oblique, differ a great sound drowneth a lesser. And I suppose little in sound, save that the straight require some-likewise, that if there were two lanterns of glass, what a stronger blast. The figures of recorders, the one a crimson, and the other an azure, and a and flutes, and pipes are straight; but the recorder candle within either of them, those coloured lights hath a less bore and a greater, above and be- would mingle, and cast upon a white paper a purlow. The trumpet hath the figure of the letter S: ple colour. And even in colours, they yield a which maketh that purling sound, &c. Gene- faint and weak mixture: for white walls make rally the straight line hath the cleanest and round-rooms more lightsome than black, &c. but the est sound, and the crooked the more hoarse and cause of the confusion in sounds, and the inconjarring. fusion in species visible, is, for that the sight worketh in right lines, and maketh several cones; and so there can be no coincidence in the eye or visual point: but sounds, that move in oblique and arcuate lines, must needs encounter and disturb the one the other.
222. Of a sinuous pipe that may have some four flexions, trial would be made. Likewise of a pipe made like a cross, open in the midst. And so likewise of an angular pipe; and see what will be the effects of these several sounds. And so again of a circular pipe; as if you take a pipe perfect round, and make a hole whereinto you shall blow, and another hole not far from that; but with a traverse or stop between them: so that your breath may go the round of the circle, and come forth at the second hole. You may try likewise percussions of solid bodies of several figures; as globes, flats, cubes, crosses, triangles, &c., and their combinations, as flat against flat, and convex against convex, and convex against flat, &c., and mark well the diversities of the sounds. Try also the difference in sound of several crassitudes of hard bodies percussed; and take knowledge of the diversities of the sounds. I myself have tried, that a bell of gold yieldeth an excellent sound, not in
225. The sweetest and best harmony is, when every part or instrument is not heard by itself, but a conflation of them all; which requireth to stand some distance off, even as it is in the mixture of perfumes; or the taking of the smells of several flowers in the air.
226. The disposition of the air in other qualities, except it be joined with sound, hath no great operation upon sounds: for whether the air be lightsome or dark, hot or cold, quiet or stirring, except it be with noise, sweet smelling, or stinking, or the like; it importeth not much; some pretty alteration or difference it may make.
227. But sounds do disturb and alter the one the other: sometimes the one drowning the other
and making it not heard; sometimes the one jar- trial may be made of a lute or viol with a double ring and discording with the other, and making belly, making another belly with a knot over a confusion; sometimes the one mingling and the strings; yet so as there be room enough for compounding with the other, and making a har- the strings, and room enough to play below that mony. belly. Trial may be made also of an Irish harp, with a concave on both sides, whereas it useth to have it but on one side. The doubt may be, lest it should make too much resounding, whereby one note would overtake another.
228. Two voices of like loudness will not be heard twice as far as one of them alone: and two candles of like light will not make things seen twice as far off as one. The cause is profound; but it seemeth that the impressions from the objects of the senses do mingle respectively, every one with his kind: but not in proportion, as is before demonstrated: and the reason may be, because the first impression, which is from privative to active, as from silence to noise, or from darkness to light, is a greater degree than from less noise to more noise, or from less light to more light. And the reason of that again may be, for that the air, after it hath received a charge, doth not receive a surcharge, or greater charge, with like appetite as it doth the first charge. As for the increase of virtue, generally, what proportion it beareth to the increase of the matter, it is a large field, and to be handled by itself.
Experiments in consort touching melioration of sounds.
229. All reflections concurrent do make sounds greater; but if the body that createth either the original sound, or the reflection, be clean and smooth, it maketh them sweeter. Trial may be made of a lute or viol, with the belly of polished brass instead of wood. We see that even in the open air, the wire-string is sweeter than the string of guts. And we see that for reflection water excelleth; as in music near the water, or in echoes.
233. If you sing into the hole of a drum, it maketh the singing more sweet. And so I conceive it would, if it were a song in parts sung into several drums; and for handsomeness and strangeness' sake, it would not be amiss to have a curtain between the place where the drums are, and the hearers.
234. When a sound is created in a wind instrument between the breath and the air, yet if the sound be communicated with a more equal body of the pipe, it meliorateth the sound. For, no doubt, there would be a differing sound in a trumpet or pipe of wood: and again in a trumpet or pipe of brass. It were good to try recorders and hunters' horns of brass, what the sound would be.
235. Sounds are meliorated by the intension of the sense, where the common sense is collected most to the particular sense of hearing, and the sight suspended: and therefore sounds are sweeter, as well as greater, in the night than in the day; and I suppose they are sweeter to blind men than to others: and it is manifest, that between sleeping and waking, when all the senses are bound and suspended, music is far sweeter than when one is fully waking.
Experiments in consort touching the imitation of sounds.
236. It is a thing strange in nature when it is attentively considered, how children, and some birds, learn to imitate speech. They take no mark at all of the motion of the mouth of him that speaketh, for birds are as well taught in the dark as by light. The sounds of speech are very curious and exquisite: so one would think it were a lesson hard to learn. It is true that it is done with time, and by little and little, and with
230. It hath been tried, that a pipe a little moistened on the inside, but yet so as there be no drops left, maketh a more solemn sound than if the pipe were dry: but yet with a sweet degree of sibilation or purling; as we touched it before in the title of "equality." The cause is, for that all things porous being superficially wet, and, as it were, between dry and wet, became a little more even and smooth; but the purling, which must needs proceed of inequality, I take to be bred between the smoothness of the inward sur-many essays and proffers: but all this dischargeth face of the pipe, which is wet, and the rest of the wood of the pipe unto which the wet cometh not, but it remaineth dry.
231. In frosty weather, music within doors soundeth better. Which may be by reason not of the disposition of the air, but of the wood or string of the instrument, which is made more crisp, and so more porous and hollow: and we see that old lutes sound better than new, for the same reason. And so do lute-strings that have been kept long.
232. Sound is likewise meliorated by the mingling of open air with pent air; therefore
not the wonder. It would make a man think, though this which we shall say may seem exceed ing strange, that there is some transmission of spirits; and that the spirits of the teacher, put in motion, should work with the spirits of the learner a predisposition to offer to imitate; and so to perfect the imitation by degrees. But touching operations by transmissions of spirits, which is one of the highest secrets in nature, we shall speak in due place, chiefly when we come to inquire of imagination. But as for imitation, it is certain that there is in men and other creatures a predisposition to imitate. We see how ready
apes and monkeys are to imitate all motions of Experiments in consort touching the reflection of man; and in the catching of dottrels, we see how the foolish bird playeth the ape in gestures: and no man, in effect, doth accompany with others, but he learneth, ere he is aware, some gesture, or voice, or fashion of the other.
There be three kinds of reflections of sounds; a reflection concurrent, a reflection iterant, which we call echo; and a super-reflection, or an echo of an echo; whereof the first hath been handled in the title of "magnitude of sounds;" the latter two we will now speak of.
242. The reflection of species visible by mirrors you may command; because passing in right lines, they may be guided to any point: but the
237. In imitation of sounds, that man should be the teacher is no part of the matter; for birds will learn one of another; and there is no reward by feeding, or the like, given them for the imitation; and besides, you shall have parrots that will not only imitate voices, but laughing, knock-reflection of sounds is hard to master; because ing, squeaking of a door upon the hinges, or of a cart-wheel; and, in effect, any other noise they hear.
238. No beast can imitate the speech of man, but birds only; for the ape itself, that is so ready to imitate otherwise, attaineth not any degree of imitation of speech. It is true, that I have known a dog, that if one howled in his ear, he would fall a howling a great while. What should he the aptness of birds in comparison of beasts, to imitate the speech of man, may be further inquired. We see that beasts have those parts which they count the instruments of speech, as lips, teeth, &c., liker unto man than birds. As for the neck, by which the throat passeth, we see many beasts have it for the length as much as birds. What better gorge or artery birds have may be farther inquired. The birds that are known to be speakers are, parrots, pies, jays, daws, and ravens. Of which parrots have an adunque bill, but the rest not.
239. But I conceive, that the aptness of birds is not so much in the conformity of the organs of speech as in their attention. For speech must come by hearing and learning; and birds give more heed, and mark sounds more than beasts; because naturally they are more delighted with them, and practise them more, as appeareth in their singing. We see also that those that teach birds to sing, do keep them waking to increase their attention. We see also that cock birds, amongst singing birds, are ever the better singers; which may be, because they are more lively and listen more.
240. Labour and intention to imitate voices doth conduce much to imitation: and therefore we see that there be certain "pantomimi," that will represent the voices of players of interludes so to life, as if you see them not you would think they were those players themselves; and so the voices of other men that they hear.
241. There have been some that could counterfeit the distance of voices, which is a secondary object of hearing, in such sort, as when they stand fast by you, you would think the speech came from afar off, in a fearful manner. How this is done may be further inquired. But I see no great use of it but for imposture, in counterfeiting ghosts or spirits.
the sound, filling great spaces in arched lines, cannot be so guided: and therefore we see there hath not been practised any means to make artificial echoes. And no echo already known returneth in a very narrow room.
243. The natural echoes are made upon walls, woods, rocks, hills, and banks; as for waters, being near, they make a concurrent echo; but being farther off, as upon a large river, they make an iterant echo: for there is no difference between the concurrent echo and the iterant, but the quickness or slowness of the return. But there is no doubt but water doth help the delation of echo; as well as it helpeth the delation of original sounds.
244. It is certain, as hath been formerly touched, that if you speak through a trunk stopped at the farther end, you shall find a blast return upon your mouth, but no sound at all. The cause is, for that the closeness which preserveth the original, is not able to preserve the reflected sound: besides that echoes are seldom created but by loud sounds. And therefore there is less hope of artificial echoes in air pent in a narrow concave. Nevertheless it hath been tried, that one leaning over a well of twenty-five fathom deep, and speaking, though but softly, yet not so soft as a whisper, the water returned a good audible echo. It would be tried, whether speaking in caves, where there is no issue save where you speak, will not yield echoes as wells do.
245. The echo cometh, as the original sound doth, in a round orb of air: it were good to try the creating of the echo where the body repercussing maketh an angle: as against the return of a wall, &c. Also we see that in mirrors there is the like angle of incidence, from the object to the glass, and from the glass to the eye. And if you strike a ball sidelong, not full upon the surface, the rebound will be as much the contrary way: whether there be any such resilience in echoes, that is, whether a man shall hear better if he stand aside the body repercussing, than if he stand where he speaketh, or anywhere in a right line between, may be tried. Trial likewise would be made, by standing nearer the place of repercussing than he that speaketh; and again by standing farther off than he that speaketh; and so knowledge would be taken, whether echoes,