Sensuality and Proportion
A primer in sound for architects.

Acoustics - some notes on the word.

The word comes from an ancient Greek (akou-stikos , ê, on, of or for hearing) [1].

The first English use of the word 'acoustic' is in 1605 in Bacon's Advancement of Learning. as 'the Acoustique Art' .
It attaches to devices such as acoustic trumpets in the 1700s and into science in the 1800s. Acoustics as a modern science arrives mid to late 1800s with Rayliegh Helmholtz and for architectural acoustics Sabine.

[1] Used for example in Aristotle. c340BCE..The faculties given us by nature are bestowed on us first in a potential form; we exhibit their actual exercise afterwards. This is clearly so with our senses: we did not acquire the faculty of sight or hearing <akoustikon> by repeatedly seeing or repeatedly listening, but the other way about - because we had the senses we began to use them, we did not get them by using them. - From Nicomanchean Ethics II.I He goes on to say a good lyre player is produced by playing the lyre well.

Bacon's disagrees in the Advancement of learning 1605AD : 'The opinion of Aristotle seemeth to me a negligent opinion, that of those things which consist by nature nothing can be changed by custom; using for example, that if a stone be thrown ten thousand times up, it will not learn to ascend; and that by often seeing or hearing, we do not learn to see or hear the better. For though this principle be true in things wherein nature is peremptory (the reason whereof we cannot now stand to discuss), yet it is otherwise in things wherein nature admitteth a latitude. For he might see that a strait glove will come more easily on with use; and that a wand will by use bend otherwise than it grew; and that by use of the voice we speak louder and stronger; and that by use of enduring heat or cold, we endure it the better, and the like: which latter sort have a nearer resemblance unto that subject of manners he handleth, than those instances which he allegeth. But allowing his conclusion, that virtues and vices consist in habit, he ought so much the more to have taught the manner of superinducing that habit: for there be many precepts of the wise ordering the exercises of the mind, as there is of ordering the exercises of the body; whereof we will recite a few.'

'...of the two principal senses of inquisition... the eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing...' [Bacon]

See also

©Marcus Beale 2003