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C. Truesdell

revised by Clive Greated

(Florenz Friedrich)

(b Wittenberg, Nov 30, 1756; d Breslau [now Wrocław], April 3, 1827). German acoustician. He studied law at Leipzig University before turning to scientific studies. He invented two instruments, the ‘euphon’ and the ‘klavizylinder’, both of which were variants of the glass harmonica. However, he owes his fame to his celebrated experiments on the nodal patterns and corresponding frequencies of vibration plates. He showed that the vibration patterns, often called Chladni figures, could be made visible by sprinkling sand on the plate. The sand is thrown up on vibrating areas and collects around nodal lines. Chladni travelled through Europe playing on his instruments and demonstrating his experiments before many persons and institutions; he encountered Goethe, Lichtenberg, Olbers, Laplace, Napoleon and other notable men of the period. Chladni's experiments stimulated much early work on the vibration of plates and bars and indeed so impressed the Académie des Sciences, Paris, that it offered a prize for a successful explanation of his sand figures and the motion of elastic surfaces in general. His work helped to form the foundation of modern theories, capable of predicting precise vibration patterns for violin and guitar top plates and the soundboards of keyboard instruments....


Patrizio Barbieri

(b Castelfranco Veneto, nr Treviso, Feb 25, 1709; d Treviso, July 20, 1790). Italian music theorist and acoustician. He studied with his father, the mathematician Jacopo Giordano, and at the University of Padua. In 1733 he withdrew to the family estates in Castelfranco Veneto and Treviso where he worked independently of the academic world. An amateur musician (singer, harpsichordist and violinist), he taught G.B. Bortolani (‘il Melani’) and Ignazio Spergher.

Riccati preceded Rameau in formulating a theory of the origin of the tonal scale in the triads based on the first, fourth and fifth degrees. He sent the document in which he claims to have made the discovery to F.A. Vallotti; its authenticity is confirmed by Vallotti’s reply dated 13 January 1735. In this document Riccati examines the numbering of the chords with which Vallotti accompanied the diatonic scale in his compositions, showing that they are simply the consonant triads based on the first, fourth and fifth degrees of the scale. Riccati also tries to give a rational justification for the harmonic identity between a chord and its inversions. As opposed to Rameau’s strict methodology based on Enlightenment ideas, Riccati based his ‘experiment’ on compositions by the great masters; his is substantially an empirical theory. In ...