King's College London
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Professor Sir Charles Wheatstone

Instruments and harmony

A concertina and a wind fiddleA concertina and a wind fiddleWheatstone was credited with the invention or refinement of musical instruments including the nail fiddle, wind fiddle, harmonium, and most notably the concertina.

Wheatstone was also concerned with the quality or timbre of musical sounds, illustrating his ideas with ‘The Harmonic Diagram’ and the accompanying pamphlet ‘An Explanation of the Harmonic Diagram Invented by C. Wheatstone’.

Wheatstone’s fascination with the physics of sound was enduring. In 1834 he was appointed Professor of Experimental Philosophy at King’s College London.

Lecture series on soundLecture series on soundThat same year he delivered a series of eight lectures on sound at the College which were to provide, ‘A general View of our present knowledge of the Laws of Sound’.

The lectures also had a practical focus and sought to apply the theory of sound to improvements to musical instruments and buildings.

Wheatstone soon broadened his research from the transmission of sound to the transmission of light and electricity, paving the way for his pioneering work on the electric telegraph.

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