Sound Medieval and Sound Modern: Reading the De generatione sonorum

IMG_2825IMG_2824As Tom’s earlier post indicated, the collaborative reading sessions on the De generatione sonorum exceeded our expectations. We get through the whole of the text over the course of the three sessions, but made substantial progress in establishing the reading of the text, and, as we have done time and again, enjoyed collectively identifying and following the precision and self-consistency of Grosseteste’s writing. The treatise is constructed effectively over two parts, the first deals with both the generation of sound in the abstract, the second relates this to the production of the human voice and to vowel and consonantal sounds. John Coleman gave an introduction to phonetics and vocal production, using audio-visual examples, as well as himself, as you can see on the right. This discussion provided an important anchor in our intellectual movements between the medieval and modern understanding of sound.

Why does the sound change when you tap around the rim of the cup? The handle is the clue...
Why does the sound change when you tap around the rim of the cup? The handle is the clue…

IMG_2824Moving through the treatise we followed Grosseteste’s use of Aristotle, of Isidore of Seville and of Priscian, and explored the context in which the text was composed, in the first 15 years or so of the 13th century. Translation and content were the other focus for the group, and the formulation of vowel shapes and sounds, as the earlier post described. We did end up requiring a flip-chart!IMG_2826 IMG_2827

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