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Early days of the tuning fork
  1. J M S PEARCE
  1. 304 Beverley Road, Anlaby, Hull, East Yorks, HU10 7BG, UK

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    Neurologists have for many years used the tuning fork both as a crude test for hearing, by means of the classic tests of HA Rinne (1819–1868)1-3 and Weber-Liel (1832–1891), and for vibration sense. In Pavia, Italy, G Cardano, astrologer, physician, and mathematician, in 1550 suggested that sound could be transmitted through the bony skull as well as through the air and a few years later, H Capivacci, a physician in Padua, used this phenomenon as a means of differentiating between middle ear and nerve deafness.4 The technique was then used by a German physician G C Schelhammer in 1684 who used a simple table fork. But, the study of ear diseases was in its infancy and little progress was made for two centuries.

    The tuning fork was invented in 1711 by a John Shore, trumpeter and lutanist to both Henry Purcell and George Frederick Handel in London. The tuning fork found a place as a musical instrument employed in the concert halls, churches, and chamber music ensembles throughout Europe. It started as a small steel instrument consisting of a stem with two stout flat prongs, which …

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    Footnotes

    • * I am indebted to Dr Nikolaus Arts of Nijmegen, The Netherlands, for this source and information.