Propagation Horns
Phonurgia nova

(Kempten 1673)


When rival polymath Sir Samuel Morland, FRS (1625-95), published a paper in the January 1672 issue of Philosophical transactions in which he laid spurious claim to the invention of the speaking-trumpet, Kircher was moved to set the record straight in Phonurgia nova, the first published book devoted entirely to acoustics. Kircher detailed his use of the 'tuba stentorophonica' to summon his congregation to St. Eustace's shrine at Mentorella for many years prior to Morland's claim, and annotated his account with testimonials from James Alban Gibbs, Gaspar Schott, and others. In addition, Kircher had written extensively on amplifying megaphones almost a quarter century earlier in Musurgia Universalis. Having routed this pretender, Kircher proceeds to reiterate and elaborate his findings from Musurgia, discussing the science of echoes and amplification, and presenting designs for many ingenious sound inventions, including talking statues, an aeolian tuba, eavesdropping devices, and a myriad of horns and megaphones. Kircher believed a helical form was most efficacious for amplification, and speaking- trumpets like the ones reproduced here would often reach immense proportions, towering over the height of a man.

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