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James F. Bell

revised by Murray Campbell

(b Erlangen, March 16, 1789; d Munich, July 6, 1854). German scientist. He studied mathematics at the University of Erlangen, taking a degree in 1811. He spent the rest of his life in a series of undistinguished posts, teaching mathematics and later physics at a relatively elementary level, apart from a period (1833–49) as professor of physics and rector of the Polytechnic Institute at Nuremberg. Among his writings is the paper of 1827 which contained the famous Ohm’s Law of Electricity, which however was little recognized at the time. His contribution to music is contained in two papers (published in Annalen der Physik uns Chemie, 1843 and 1844) in which he presented what became known as Ohm’s Law of Acoustics: he suggested that musical sounds depended not on phase but on the distribution of energies among the harmonics. His research stimulated Helmholtz’s important experiments in the 1850s and 1860s, and dominated the conception of the subject for a century. Ohm’s place in musical acoustics, although less publicized, is as secure as his place in electromagnetic theory....

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Murray Campbell

(Alfred )

(b Hull, August 14, 1922; d March 7, 2002). English physicist, writer and lecturer on the physics of music. He studied physics at Queen Mary College, London (BSc 1942), and at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (PhD 1951, DSc 1959), where he was a lecturer then a reader in physics (1948–85). As professor and head of department of physics at University College, Cardiff (1965–83), he established the first electronic music studio in a British university (1970); he was visiting professor of experimental physics at the Royal Institution of Great Britain (1976–88), and became emeritus professor of physics at the University of Wales in 1983. He was elected an honorary fellow of the Institute of Acoustics (1985).

Though his major research activity was in the study of X-ray and optical diffraction, the important musical acoustics research group which he founded at Cardiff carried out pioneering holographic studies of the vibrational modes of stringed instrument bodies. In ...