A quote way, way ahead of its time

Monday, 04 August 2008 10:09



We have also sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sounds, and their generation. We have harmonies which you have not, of quarter-sounds, and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have, together with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet. We represent small sounds as great and deep; likewise great sounds extenuate and sharp; we make divers tremblings and warblings of sounds, which in their original are entire. We represent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters, and the voices and notes of beasts and birds. We have certain helps which set to the ear do further the hearing greatly. We have also divers strange and artificial echoes, reflecting the voice many times, and as it were tossing it: and some that give back the voice louder than it came, some shriller, and some deeper; yea, some rendering the voice differing in the letters or articulate sound from that they receive. We have also means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in strange lines and distances.

- from “The New Atlantis” by Sir Francis Bacon, in 1623 AD       

This quote was posted in the BBC?Radiophonic Workshop and the studio of Daphne Oram, the founder of the Workshop, and of the quote.  I discovered it at the beginning of a BBC Radio 3 documentary about her.