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THE PHONOGRAPHIC METHOD                         67
might result in some such defeat of our efforts to comprehend the pre­sented sensation as supposably occurs when we look at a landscape with head inverted; and the tones composing the texture might emerge with the same clearness and delicacy that mark the tints of a view seen upside down. Again, phonographic records being permanent things within limits, the errors of one observer might be detected by the reno-tation of the same music by another. A method radically different from the present would be that of writing down the deliverances of the phonograph, not by ear, but by observing the rates of vibration of the diaphragm. The interpretation of a graphic record of the dia­phragm movements would replace simple judgments of greater or less (tone distance) by actual measurement (in space), but if attempted to minute intervals would involve measuring waves to minute distances, a process both laborious and difficult and presenting its own possibilities of error.
In the recent studies of non-European music undertaken with the aid of the phonograph in the Psychologisches Institut of Professor Carl Stumpf of Berlin University, the instrument of comparison was the Appunn tonometer, in effect a harmonium of narrower range, with notes spaced much more closely (every few vibrations). In the more recent Stern variator, by Max Kohl of Chemnitz, a tone produced by a stream of air across the mouth of a metal bottle can be varied to a vibration or less by turning a crank. The use of this instrument would substitute a method of likeness for the method of difference heretofore employed. The variable tone would be adjusted to unison with the phonograph note and the vibration number read. The practicability and accuracy of such a device could be ascertained only by trial, but it would seem to promise a determination of phonographic sequences which for the purposes of the science of music could be called absolute.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III