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date: 20 October 2019

Aliquotlocked

  • Howard Mayer Brown
  • , revised by Anne Beetem Acker

Extract

Term for a whole number that divides into another without remainder; one number is an aliquot part of the other and can be smaller or of the same length. The wavelengths of the harmonic partials of a tone are aliquot parts of the fundamental. Sympathetic strings that vibrate in resonance with others that are struck, plucked, or bowed are called ‘aliquot strings’. In organ building, Aliquotstimme is the German term for a Mutation stop that sounds one or more harmonic partials of the fundamental.

Two types of aliquot stringing are used in pianos. In 1873 Blüthner patented the addition of a sympathetic aliquot string to each trichord in the treble of grand pianos; Boisselot introduced a similar form in 1843. Steinway in 1872 patented a system called ‘duplex scaling’ wherein aliquot string segments beyond one or both ends of the normal sounding length (front and rear duplexes) are allowed to ring sympathetically, being provided with additional small bridges that define their lengths. Steinway claimed a twofold advantage: increasing string flexibility by changing the end condition from a fixed to a hinged state, and suppressing undesirable longitudinal vibrations; however, sympathetic resonance is generally acknowledged as the only audible result. Steinway’s aliquot system was anticipated a half century earlier by the German piano maker Wilhelm Leberecht Petzoldt, who experimented with a small bridge placed behind the normal one in an attempt to exploit sympathetic resonance....

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