In 1687, in his manuscript science textbook Compendium Physicae at the end of Chapter 24, “Of Hearing,” the Rev. Mr. Charles Morton recorded a curious experiment to examine the transmission of sound, harmony, and discord. It is as follows:

    The means of transferring [this] Motion [sound] from the Object visible, to the Organ, Ear, is ordinarily [the] Air; but it may be ob[s]curely conveyed through water, or by a Long Peice [sic] of wood or timber, and not only the Ear, but the teeth [also] may receive the Vibrations, and their harmonicall proportions, as was manifest in a Deaf and Dumb man whome I have Seen pleased with musick by holding the Halft of a Knife in his teeth whose point was Stuck in the belly of a Harpsicall; But this perhaps may be rather cal’d a feeling a Motion than hearing a Sound, however from hence it appears that even to [that] Sence proportion is a delight, and probably tis to all the rest.

    Air is the ordinary mean of Sound

    Its Substitute is ought that will Rebound

    Three years later, Capt. Lawrence Hammond includes a report of the same experiment in the transmission of sound in his journal among the entries for 1690. It is as follows:

    A Remarkable Experim tryed upon a Deaf & Dumb man.

    Wee pricked a knife’s point (saith M Morton in his Discourse of ye sense of Hearing) into ye belly of an Harpsicot, causing him to hold ye haft in his Teeth, then two of us severally played in his sight, ye one Harmonically som Tunes, ye other afterward struck a Confused Discord, clashing many of ye keyes at once: ye poor man expressed wonderfull Joy at ye Harmony, & embraced him yt had played it; but withall showed as mch displeasure & Contempt of him yt had troubled him wṭh ye Discord. Then blindfold we set him in ye former posture; & he yt before had Clashed, now play’d Regularly; & ye other yt before had made musick, now Jumbled wth ye keyes, this we did severall times, shifting hands as we thought fit; & between every time unbound his Eyes. The man still after a musical playing shewed his kindness & gratitude to him whom he had seen play, w at first it pleased him, & so on the contrary. By wc̣h it appeared plainly, yt tho’ he mistook ye persons, yet he very well pceived ye sound & it’s [sic] affections, & Distinguished betweene ye Harmony & ye Discord, an answerable satisfaction, or Regret.

    M Morton gives this Instance to note a probability yt ye mouth is not devoid of a power of perceiving sound; & yt by ye tender nerves of ye Teeth. &c.