Page:Vitruvius the Ten Books on Architecture.djvu/173

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like the innumerably increasing circular waves which appear when a stone is thrown into smooth water, and which keep on spread­ing indefinitely from the centre unless interrupted by narrow limits, or by some obstruction which prevents such waves from reaching their end in due formation. When they are interrupted by obstructions, the first waves, flowing back, break up the form­ation of those which follow.

7. In the same manner the voice executes its movements in concentric circles; but while in the case of water the circles move horizontally on a plane surface, the voice not only proceeds hori­zontally, but also ascends vertically by regular stages. Therefore, as in the case of the waves formed in the water, so it is in the case of the voice: the first wave, when there is no obstruction to inter­rupt it, does not break up the second or the following waves, but they all reach the ears of the lowest and highest spectators with­out an echo.

8. Hence the ancient architects, following in the footsteps of nature, perfected the ascending rows of seats in theatres from their investigations of the ascending voice, and, by means of the canonical theory of the mathematicians and that of the musicians, endeavoured to make every voice uttered on the stage come with greater clearness and sweetness to the ears of the audience. For just as musical instruments are brought to perfection of clearness in the sound of their strings by means of bronze plates or horn ἠχεἲα, so the ancients devised methods of increasing the power of the voice in theatres through the application of harmonics.


CHAPTER IV

HARMONICS


1. Harmonics is an obscure and difficult branch of musical science, especially for those who do not know Greek. If we de­sire to treat of it, we must use Greek words, because some of them have no Latin equivalents. Hence, I will explain it as clearly as