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Topic: [HM] Gauss's schoolroom anecdote
Replies: 2   Last Post: Feb 18, 2006 3:11 PM

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Udai Venedem

Posts: 19
Registered: 2/16/05
[HM] Fourier's forgotten memoir on music
Posted: Feb 18, 2006 3:11 PM
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Dear all Listers,
there is a sort of paradoxical legend about Fourier : when his methods
has so many applications in this field, he is said to have left no work
on music theory.
You can have a look at Champollion-Figeac, Louis Charbonneau, Gaston
Darboux, Dhombres & Robert, Ivar Grattan-Guinness, J. W. Herivel, H.
Yoshida and S. Takata, at all who wrote about Fourier's works and life,
they all agree on this : Fourier did not work on music.

I am very happy to tell you they are wrong, and the legend is
far-fetched. Indeed, I found in [1] p. 17-23 an abstract of Fourier's
"Mémoire sur les vibrations des surfaces élastiques", which clearly
deals with musical theory. As it is under Delambre's authority, it
could easily have been unseen by the best commentators of Fourier. But
where I do not find any excuse or explanation, is that the very same
abstract is reproduced in [2] p. 258-264 by Fourier himself, as soon as
he was elected as Secrétaire perpétuel after Delambre's death.

Under a similar title, an article by Fourier was well known. It is
listed as [3]. Some commentators have noticed it, but did not see its
relation to a near homonym memoir, and, as it contains no reflection on
music, their comments are of no help for us here.

The "Mémoire sur les vibrations des surfaces élastiques" was the first
submitted by Fourier since he was elected at the Paris Academy. This is
one more reason to be astonished it was unseen by all commentators, and
it is a very strong argument to call for its rediscovering. Who could
help so? Someone familiar with Fourier's manuscripts ? I wrote to M.
Charbonneau, with no answer, but may be the adress I have is obsolete.
Could someone tell him about ?
I consider of the highest importance to find this memoir and to publish
it. Just consider : Fourier's "lost" memoir on music !
[1] DELAMBRE, [FOURIER] ; Analyse des travaux de l'Académie royale des
Sciences, pendant l'année 1818. Partie mathématique. Par M. le
Chevalier Delambre, Secrétaire perpétuel.

[2] FOURIER ; Analyse des travaux de l?Académie royale des Sciences,
pendant l?année 1822.

[3] Note relative aux vibrations des surfaces élastiques et au
mouvement des ondes : p. 129-136, livraison de septembre 1818 of the
Bulletin des sciences par la Société Philomatique.

Udai Venedem

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