The idea is simple, the SketchClub is a monthly space and time to be creative and sketch anything related to a different Lanchester inspired theme. On the last Wednesday of every month the new theme will be revealed and this month it’s :- Sound Waves!
Take a look at the short video and pictures below and delve into the archives for some inspiration. Click on the images to see them in the online archive and you’ll find even more in there too or download the worksheet.
Lanchester’s interests covered so many areas, often driven by experience and everyday life or by his inquisitive approach to any subject. He was extremely interested in music and his unique way of looking (and listening) led him to consider that the western music scale was mathematically imperfect and so set about designing his own. This involved research into world music scales years before this would become fashionable and his theories then required him to develop a new keyboard that would operate this new scale for performances. He also developed pioneering research that would lead to the development of modern PA systems. He tested this by staging a large event at Birmingham Town Hall in 1929 where he hooked up electric amplification to a gramophone!
His interest in sound took him on a journey to investigate soundwaves and visual representation of sound. This approach can be a starting point to capturing the various sounds across the city in different places – from the busy streets (or currently quiet streets filled with bird song) or how to visually show echoes in large stone historic civic buildings with the natural reverb, or the quiet contemplative environment of the cathedral grounds.
How do you visually represent sound? What colours do you use? Kandinsky believed shades resonated with each other to produce visual ‘chords. Or Colin Hendee sculpture ‘Amen Break’.
Have a go and experiment like Fred would have…
Between 1912 and the 1930s Fred began to patent designs for sound systems, amplifiers, loudspeakers, gramophones and microphones through his company Lanchester Laboratories Ltd. Lanchester Laboratories Limited was established in 1923 in partnership with Daimler. Unfortunately, there followed much controversy over financial backing from Daimler and internal matters there and in 1929 F W Lanchester’s connection with Daimler was severed. He now decided that Lanchester’s Laboratories Limited should manufacture high class acoustic products, for some of which he had already taken out patents.
Fred was particularly interested in the reproduction of gramophone records and designed a special loudspeaker, which he called the “Euterpe-phone”, with a tone control circuit intended particularly to overcome problems with the recording and reproduction of high and low notes.
In January 1929 Fred demonstrated his Euterpe-phone at Birmingham Town Hall. This device was used to amplify music that had been pre-recorded. We would know it today as a loudspeaker
During his lifetime Fred submitted over 400 Patents including these sound-based ones
Patent no. 339,949 14 September 1929 – The present invention relates to improvements in apparatus for the reproduction of music, speech, and the like and refers more particularly to an electro-magnet device more commonly known as a ‘pick-up’ by means of which movements impressed upon a needle by a record are caused to give rise to voltage variations which are capable of subsequent amplification for the electrical reproduction of sound through the medium of a so-called loudspeaker
Sketches from Fred’s books- Condenser Microphone – layout, dimensions, cone data – sketches, table LAN/4/7/221
Sketches from Fred’s books – Sketch book 7. From Fred’s article on 1 March 1933 referring to sound energy.
Sketches from Fred’s books-The circuit diagram and notes relating to an Amplifier from Fred’s Sketch Book No.7 (LAN/4/7/101) 27th October 1928
The Musical Scale – In 1941/2 Fred had his work ‘The Musical Scale’ published. He printed copies of the book himself using a gestetner machine . In the book he claims that the musical scale is actually incorrect and continues to explain his theory using complex mathematical equations and formula.
Many of his books were donated to colleagues and one esteemed colleague Sir Granville Bantock claimed that if he were still head of the university, he would have insisted that his publication be introduced to first year students studying music.
LAN_2_13_004 – Fred combined his mathematical calculations with the acoustics of his own music room to test and refine his musical reproduction systems. Courtesy of Archive, IMechE
LAN_2_13_009 – By photographing and measuring ripples in a model filled with water, he was able to visualise the complex effects of sound waves interacting with the walls of a concert hall. Courtesy of Archive, IMechE
LAN_2_13_012 – This helped him to design and patent speakers and amplifiers that would fill a room with music, without unwanted echo and interference. Courtesy of Archive, IMechE
LAN 4-1-120 – Pianoforte Improvements-Improvements to the foot operated mechanism and power transmission of player pianos; to control better the loud, or forte effect.
Patent for improvements in mechanical pianoforte players, 23 April 1912