Chapter 24

Of Hearing

HEARING is an Exterior Sense Perceiving Sound by the help of the Eare, which is a Part of the body made up of Cavity, Membranes, Bones, and Nerves.1 All Discribed in Anatomy, though here a Little of them. The Ears parts are Exterior, and Interior.

1. Exterior, Figured for Beauty, and Use.

1. The Beauty, and Repute of it is manifest in the Cropping of it, as a juditiall [75] note of Infamy.

2. The Use of it is to prepare the moved, and Sounding air for its Circumvolution in the Inner parts; yea the Lobe which seams to be of little use yet is taken Speciall notice [of] by Physitians in a near approach to death, for its Coldness intimates a drawing on. And also by such as Deal in Clothes, who feal it with one hand while the other feals the Cloth; and So by comparing give an Estimate of the fineness.

Organ of hearing is the Eare Abstruse

Whose outer parts for beauty and for use

2. The Interior parts are Coclear, Drum, Stirrup, hammer, etc:

1. Coclear, Revolution in the hole that goeth in through the Scull winding about like the inside of a Snail shell, whence it has its name.

2. The Drum, a fine membrane which is spread overthwart the hole.

3. The Stirrup, (or Staple) from its figure is a little bone joyned to the membrane.

4. The Hammer a Little bone like the [Roman] Letter T. whose ends (a.b.) move in the Holes of the Staple (c.c.) and the End (e.) rising and falling at every Shake of the Drum beats upon

5. The Anvill (d.) a Little bone Set under the hammer, whereon is (as it ware) formed every particular Sound.

6. Then there is a Cavity filled with Internal Air which is affected, and moved, by the Severall Knocks of the Hammer.

7. Lastly, the Auditory nerve expatiating itself (Like the Optiek nerve in the Retina) is moved and affected by this internall Air, and So Derivation is made by the Vibration thereof, to that part of the Braine, where recides the Common sence.

To Hearing Coclear, Drum, and Stirrup Serve

With Hammer, Anvill, Cavity, Air, and Nerve

2. The Object; Sound, distinguished into direct, and reflex.

1. Direct Sound was Antiently defined, a Quality arising from the Collition (or smiting togather) of two Solid bodyes; By Solid they Understood Such as were formally, or else Such as were Equivalently So. By Equivalents may be understood Less Solids Swiftly moved. Such as air and [a] Rod Struck Swiftly through it, which makes a Quip; then this Impelled air was Supposed to move the next, and that the next untill it arive to the Sensory. But Latter men do otherwise conceive it; namly that this which is called a Quality is no other than a Vibration, or Shaking of the Air in which must be considered [the first] I[m]pression and [the] Continuation.

1. The first Impression and this either by air upon air or Solid upon Air.

1. Air upon Air is manifest in the bounce of a Gun, or thunder, in these the Inflamed matter Expatiating itself Suddainly forces the Air at the mouth of the Gun, (or parting of the Clouds) to part Suddainly, and (as it were) to Start back; then when it can, it rushes [as soon] togather again, to avoid a Vacuum, and So one side beats against another, which causes a Shake and [that] is communicated to the Ear. Now this Starting back and returning againe and indeed all the Vibration is from the Airs Elasticity (or Springiness) of which before, see also Mr boile on that Subject.2

2. Solid upon Air is when the Solid is Vibrated, and thereby puts the Adjacent Air into the Same Vibration; and this is best Performed by Springing things (as Bell-Mettall, Brass, Glass, and Some woods more than others, as [Deal] of which the [Bellyes] of [Musicall] Instruments are therefore made, Ash, Maple, etc:) and this Seams to be the reason of the Sound of an Hammer upon a table; for a Hammer if it be Struck on [the] table, and Especially if it rebound off again causes all the parts of a table to vibrate, and smite the Air, but if the Motion of the hammer be Slow (though Strong) or if it be Stayed on the table when [it is] at it then there being little or no vibration the Sound is accordingly.

Sound Hearing’s Object, by Vibration

Of Air, on Air, Solid on Air, is done.

2. The Continuation of this impression through the Air is (Sir Samuel Morland)3 by Undulation and So is Supposed to Come home [wavy] 〰 to the to the Ear Even as we see in Water, if a Stone be dropt into the midst of a Pond it will Cause many rings of Waves one Still begetting another every way, till the motion of the Water come out to the very banck. The reason of which is that the Water removed by the Stone thrusts up the next in a heap, because it has not room behind it to give way; but then when it is risen in a height answerable to the force of the Im-[76]pression, its own Gravity Causes it to fall down again, and Crush the next, and so beget another wave, that another, and So on, as Long as the motion first impressed doth last: Hence it is that the waves are higher and the thickness (or Horizontall Dimention) is Less near the first Impression, but Lower and broader as they goe farther off. Now as the water gives way, and waves by the Violence of a Push (or blow) So dos the air also when it is Smitten; though in less undulations (or Waves) because its body is more tenuious, and sooner gives way And hereby the way of the motion is lengthened, more than a motion in the right line would be; and therefore at Some distance we See the Stroake before we hear the Sound.

By violence in water waves are found,

Like undulations are in Air for sound

2. Reflex Sound is cal’d Echo. Which requires to its Constitution besides a Sound given 3 things. Hollow body, thick Air, and Due Position

1. An Opposite hollow body, Solid and (best is) Somwhat vibrating, that So the appulses of the Undulations may be turned back again as we see in Water; the Undulations beginning at the place of the Stones falling (a.) by degrees waves out as far as the bank (b.) but here it begins to wave back again towards (a.) from whence the waves first came; So it is in [the] Sound for oft times one hears his own voyce, and distinctly the last of his words, and tho a plain flat may return Sounds yet tis best done in a Hollow; for herein diverse Echos are collected and broght to the Same Ear; as from (a.b.c.) 3 sides of a Cavity. 3 returns are made to the Ear (e.) whereas from the single plain (b) there can be (according to what is said above) but one Single return towards (e.) Hence it is that Hallow Empty Cask[s] Sound Notably by a Multiplication of Echoes for the reflection is from all Sides to the Center where the moved air again meats, and So begets a new Con[c]ussion or Multiplication of Sound which issues out togather at the hole (or bung.) It must also be (for well to do) a Springy Solid that may Cause the Air to rebound, and thereby the better to Continue its motion Hence firr, and Ash if fully dry (as is before noted) are best for musicall instruments; and a Room Winescoted [is] better to play in than one with hangings which will Quell and dead the Vibration. A fire Also in a Room Spoyles Sound for that it draws the Air to it, and returns it not unless in another motion Sutable to its own nature, namly to heat and not to Sound, hence also it is that a room new plaistered, washed, or Whited Gives the best Echo because the moisture for present fills all the little holes or Crevices which else would drink away the Sound and So Likewise dos open Casements Doors, and Chimneys.

Echo from hollow, Solid, Springs abound

Where Care is had that nought drink off the sound

2. It requires also a Moyst, and thicker Air, and this Quiet and undisturbed that the Undulations may be kept better distinct, and togather and may have some Sensible difference between the direct and reflex Sounds; hence therefore the best Echoes are heard from over a river, or in a Still evening when there is a Moist and Quiet Air.

3. The Positure of the Ear Must be such as that the Angle of Reflection being the Same with that of incidence may bring the Sound directly to it. So if (a.) gives the Sound it Smites at (b.) and is returned to the ear (c.) which now hears the Sound two wayes, the one by the line (a.c.) the other by the reflecting line (a.b.c.) but then the person who gives the Sound at (a) hears not the Echo of his own Sound If he would therefore hear it he must So Alter the place of his Standing to be at, or near perpendicular to the reflecting Cavern and then the Speaker at (a.) and the Hearer at (c.) will be both togather as in the Diagram. Hence the Multiplication of Echoes is when there are more reflecters Standing in the Same angles; Such are the [Buttresses] of a building, (as in the Diagram) the Clefts of a Rock, etc: And [77] here the farthest Echo comes last, and faintest home, but if the reflection be Equidistant then the Echoes will come home altogather, and be more loud and distinct. I have heard that Sir Peter Ball near Exeter, built a Musick room of an ovall [form] both top and end, and this over a pond to keep the Air thick which had an opening in the Middle of the floor represented by the Little Square (b.) the Players to Stand at (a.) and the principle hearer at, or near (c.) the focus of the round Cavity, and where all the reflections will return and meat upon him.4

Nothing Sets forth the truth of this of the Angles of Incidence and reflections in Sounds better than the famed Whispering place at Glosester which I have Seen, and observed.5 Tis an Arched passage part of an Octangular Leading about the East End of the Cathedriall Quire; wherein the Whisper at (a.) Sends forth a Small Sound to the outer wall (b.) thence it’s reflected to the Inner wall (c.) thence to the outer wall (d.) and thence [tis] cast at last to the hearers Ear (e.) Yea though there be a great opening into a Chappell at (g.) yet this draws not off the Sound because it Strikes not there but at the Inner wall (c.) which is over against [it], and if a third man Stand at the open place (g.) or at any other place out of the Line of the Whispers [Course he hears not the Sound,] and yet at (e.) which is farthest off it’s heard distinctly.

Through air thick, Quiet, Moist, are undefac’d

Echoes return’d to an Ear rightly plac’d.

2. A Second Distinction of Sound May be as to time Short, or Continued.

1. Short as a Knock, bounce, Quip, etc: when the impuls to the Air, and the appuls to the Ear is but one

2. Continued as a roar, or ting of a bell, Sound of a String Stricken, blast of a Trumpet etc: this is but the other multiplied, the Stroakes So Close and thick set togather that the hammer of the Ear cannot fall down on the Anvill, after one before comes another Stroake home, this may be perceived in the difference between the common beating and Rolling (as it’s Cal’d) on a Drum and in a Musical String, or Ring of a bell, tis but a multitude of Quips each one made by Each Vibration. from this [Continuance] arises the Eight measures of notes in Musick, Large, Long, Breife, Semi-briefe, Minim: Cratchet, Quaver, and Semiquaver, and their derivatives, triple and quadruple.

Short Sound by one Appuls is Specify’d

Continu’d is by the same multiply’d.

3. A third Distinction, as to Loudness, is Strong and weak.

1. Strong, which Undulates far, beats much air, and mounts the Ear hammer Extraordinary high: this may Somtimes excell and hurt the Organ; Such are the bounce of a Cannon to one that is nigh; the noise of Bells ringing to one that is in the Steeple among them [etc:]; this commonly makes deaf for a Little time after (as Looking directly on the Suns body makes blind for a While,) because the tention (or Stretching) of the Drum is Such that it cannot presently reduce itself to its ordinary stretch. Yea I know [an Aufe] ([or] Naturall fool) Said to be made So from the Suddain [and] unexpected Sound of a drum, and as it is disproportionable to mans Spirit, So it is also to food that Should maintain them; for Experience Shews that Thunder, Great Guns; etc: (as is before noted in the Chapter of thunder) do Spoile Bear, Milk, etc: The reason may be their Concussion of the Air So briskly as that it is communicated to the Small particles of the Liquor, So as either to advance their Sediments, before dismissed by fermentation or to alter the Site and figure of the Component parts that they cannot equally (as before) maintain their motion, or retain their Spirits A Traditionall prevention of this is the Laying a bar of Iron over the Vessell which if true, the reason may be guessed that partly by weight it Stops the vibration of the vessel, and then perhaps a rope tyed about it or a Stone Layed upon it would do as well, and partly by its Springy nature common to mettal receiving the vibration into its self, that would otherwise invade the Vessell, and then any other ringing matter would be its substitute; though this is most usuall because next at hand. But as there is Somtimes hurt So there is Good also comes by these great Sounds. It Sends in Shoales [78] of fish to Some Shores, whereby Men the better get them: It Everywhere purges the Air, probably by precipitation (or throwing down the Noxious vapours that hang in it;) and therefore it may be profitable to Shoot of Store of Guns, and Lustyly ring bells in times, and places of Contagion.

2. Weak, and Soft (on the Contrary) beates little air, and undulates but a little way; therefore is Scarce audible by Scarcely moving the hammer of the Ear; Such are [whisper], and any Sound at a Great distance.

Strong Sounds do good or ill effects produce

Weak do no hurt, and are of little use

4. A fourth distinction of Sounds is as to tone arising from the Number of vibrations, or returns in the Same time, and So [they] are Low, or high.

1. Low, Base, or Grave, wherein the Vibrations are fewer in a certain space of time this is perceivable in a Womans Spinning-Wheele, which if whirled Swifter gives a Shriller Sound; but as the Swiftness abates, So the Sound fals; also in Boyes Casting on Huming tops, which Sound Shrill at first, and after fall by degrees. In Strings of Instruments this Variety arises, from the Length thickness, and tension; and that Singly or Conjoyned; for the Longer a String is it vibrates the Seldomer; because it hath farther way to go [ere] it returns; the Slacker also for the Same reason, and also because its Springy parts whereby it should be accellerated are (as it ware) Let down. The thicker Strings are Slower; because the Greater impediment from the air.

2. High, Trebble, Sharpe, or accute Sounds, are from Contrary Causes producing Contrary Effects. Here therefore the Strings must be Short, Small, and Stiffly wound up. now all this is gathered from the Swayes of pendulums wherein the Shorter Strings make Swifter returns of the bullet; and yet all its returns from first to Last are (at least Sensibly) of equal time So it is in the String of an instrument; for if it be drawn sidewayes an Inch from its streight line, and then let fly it yeilds the Same tone as it dos when it is almost Quiet; because though it be Swifter when it is first let go yet its returns are in the Same Sensable time, as when it moves never so little. The difference will be only in Loudness; for then when it moves swiftly it beats more air, whereby Sounds are multiplied, and thereby Magnifyed; as a Vally of Shot Sounds farther than a Single one, and yet the beating of So much as it Strikes is all after the Same manner.

On this Diversity of high, and low tones are Grounded all the doctrine of concords and Discords in musick, of which in the next Distinction. And by this also may be understood what is number of Sounds which is Said to be the object of musick for it is no other than the [proper] number of vibrations in every tone or Sound; and the proportions that are between them answerable to the proportion[s] that are in Arithmeticall number.

Vibrations Number Sounds of Low, high, Chords

by thickness, tension, Length of String affords

5. Distinction of Sound is pleasing and unpleasing, according to the apt proportion it bears to the motion of our Animall Spirits. This is either Physicall or Mathematecall.

1. Physical when it’s Clear, Smart, etc: depending on the Qualification of the Singers throat, or Players instrument whence the Sound proceeds. And this Sound is Somway delightfull [even to] brutes, as the wild notes of birds to those of their own Kind; the Gingle of bells and Sound of trumpets to horses, and So of others.

2. Mathematical when the Sounds are proportionall Each to other, and have apt place or Consecution in a Musicall tune.

Of Musick the Theory is a Science; the practicall Use in Voyce or Instrument is an art, the Proportions are found out by the divisions of a Monachard (or Single String) for as the length of any part is to the whole length So will the Sound of the whole and part be one towards another.6 Hence tis found that 2 strings of the Same Length, thickness, and tension will yeild exactly the Same Sound, or tone, and if one be Struck the other will Shake, these are Called Unisons, and are Harmoneous but where there is difference in [these] Circumstances (unless one Compensates the other) the tones will be different, and that either Concord, or Discord.

1. Concord are Such as vibrate So as that there is an exact conjunction in the points of [time] wherein they make their returns, and if the Conjunction be on both sides of the vibration tis call’d a perfect concord, if only on the one [79] side tis an Imperfect one. These Concords help the motion one of another, because the Undulations of the Air Smitten are (as it ware) one and the Same way.

2. Discords are when the Vibrations of the Severall Strings do So cross, and Interfere that they never turn togather, these hinder and extinguish each others motion, because their Undulations being travers do interrupt and confound one another, and So neither of them can come Distinctly or Smoothly to the Ear.

All these concords and Discords are comprehended within the compass of 8 notes Inclusive, for there are but 7 Specifically distinct tones in nature, the 8th being a Kind of Unison to the first, and is Cal’d Diapason.

This is manifest in a Whistle, wherein if you breath Gently it gives the Slower vibrations, and the Lower note: But if you blow Stronger (in the Same Stop) you Immediatly pass into an 8th above: and So dos a Bull in roaring even to 2 or 3 8ths Successively. The Reason is because the length, or bigness of the Instrument on [that] Particular Stop, is only fitted for one kind of note, either by Single or Double vibrations, but if you Stop one or more holes you thereby Shorten the Instrument, and then will another note arise by a soft [breath], and its 8th by a Stronger blast.

So then the perfect Concords are Unisons, [or] 8ths 3ds and 5ths. The Imperfect concords are 4ths and 6ths and the discords are 2ds and 7ths the Same is Said of their Compounds, their 8ths above, or below; for these are (as was Said) but the Same Notes repeated again in a




The Scale of these Musicall notes is Gam-ut, A-re, B-mi, etc. Artificial names given to every musicall tone; these in Singing are Shortened to Sol, La, [Mi], fa, [Sol], La, [fa]; the proportion of them one to the other is measured by arithmeticall proportions; So 8ths are Double, 5ths are trebble, etc: as may be Seen in the musicall Scale of proportions. It’s wonderfull to consider that the same proportions of Length[s], and breadth[s] to Sight are harmonicall, and pleasing to the Eye, which in Sounds are delightfull to the Ear, So that a man may build a house Musically for if the Dimensions of parts be according to the Scale of musicall concords, and their proportions it will be pleasing to the Eye, But if the Dimensions vary never So little from these proportions, ’tis Uncomly, Inharmonicall, and Like an Instrument out of tune to the Eare; Every ordinary beholder will say it is not very handsome, though he knows not why. This is a notion worthy to be better considered by Archytects, Especially by Gardners, Cabinet-makers, Silver-Smiths etc: and all whose works are [properly] Eye-Objects, and design’d for its delight; for hereby Shall they Set off their work more Acceptably, and to the Universall Content of Mankind.

What in the Ear’s delightfull Harmony,

the Same proportion’s pleasing to the Eye.

The Mathematicall pleasure of Sound, is peculiar to man, and common to all men, So that Harmony, and Discord are perceived by the most Savage persons with resentment. Whereas brutes may Love the noyse but have no regard to the Harmony; the Reason of this can be no other than [an] Agreableness of the Musicall airs motion with that of the Spirits in humane bodyes: Add to this a Rationall aptitude in man to approve of Entire, orderly, and Equall parts, more than broaken uneven and Confused, as it please a man [more] to See a whole, and just a half (answerable to an 8th in Sounds) than a whole and Somwhat more or less than [an] halfe So 2 and 3 Answerable to a 5th in concords, than 2 and 3 with an Irrational bitt over, or under. for Such an Object perplexes, and dos not Satisfie the mind. Now Seeing there is Such an Agreement between the Eye and the Ear (as is before noted) the Same is the reason of Sounds in all other concords, and yet it must be confessed there are Some men have less regard to harmony in Eye, or Ear, than others tis Supposed they will not boast of it as their perfection. Some are also more pleased with the Sound than with the proportion, therefor the briskness of a trumpet or the [Squeale] of a Violin Soundly Rubb’d to make a noyse dos affect them more than the best compositions of Viol Consorts, but that is because they are more Sensuall than Rationall. This Last mentioned Inclination is a Little too near the brute: but of those that are Musically inclined there is a variety as to the modes; Some are for the brisk Corants, Others for the Grave Almaines, and the Like; And So as to Eye-objects, Some like the Comly shape of an house, or habit, others the Garish ornament [thereof] from the one or other prevailing, or a decent mixture of both, may be attain’d a reasonable guess at the Naturall abilities or morall [80] Inclination of Persons. I have heard that a Great Person being Entertain’d with musick upon a very Solemn occasion, the Composer beforehand by Enquiery, got knowledge of Some little tunes that the Prince was want to Sing to himself, as a Naturall, Solitary Entertainment; and then adapting his Compositions to the Same Key, and mode; he made them more than ordinary pleasing. A Good Archytect, being also a Good Mathematicall Musitian Might (I [think]) from the pleasing musick of any person upon the Same Grounds before mentioned contrive for him a very delightfull Structure. But herein I would advise that the design Should be accomodated to the probable inclinations of his more composed years, though the work may be done in his youth; because the house remaining the Same, and his age varying it had need be fitted for Such time as he May Most Enjoy it, and not blame himself or [his] Archyte[c]t for former folly. And this much for the pleasure of Sound.

2. The Unpleasant or Uneligant Sound (by Consequence) is that which causeth a Motion of Air unsutable to the motion of our Spirits; Mathematically Such as discords in Musick, Strings out of [tune]; or Physically, Such as Shreikes of filings, or Scraping of trenchers, etc: which do (as we express it) Set our teeth on Edge. That is disorder the motion of our Spirits, So as the tender nerves do trublesomly feel it. I have been the Longer here on Sounds to prepare a way for the better understanding of that difficult Mathematiek, the Theory of Musick, with which few Scholars are well accuainted.

Naturall Sound that’s Smooth may please a Brute

But artificiall only man dos Suit.

3. The means of transferring [this] Motion 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 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