The Monochord according to Marin Mersenne

Bits, Atoms and some Surprises

By Carlos Calderon Urreiztieta · Universitat Pompeu Fabra


Applications, videos and images

ABSTRACT. We present here two reconstructions – one material (wood and gut strings), one digital-virtual (multimedia and interactive) of Marin Mersenne’s monochord. They are based on the text and figure from Proposition XII from the “Book of the Instruments” of Mersenne’s Harmonie Universelle. The digital reconstruction helps to read some chapters of this book in a multimedia way, convinced as we are that musical treatises - especially from 17th century - have to be “heard” in order to reach a full understanding of its propositions.  More generally the reconstructions serve to investigate and verify both numerically and acoustically, Mersenne’s musical science.


The virtual-digital reconstruction

Interactive Multimedia: On-Line
(Shockwave plug-in required. Automatic installation)

The real-material reconstruction
(building process)

Video 320x240 .wmv file

Video 320x240 .mov file