Dayton C. Miller, His Life, Work, and Contributions | Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection Home
Chapters 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |
Abstract of Master's Report | List Of Figures | Appendix | Footnotes | Bibliography

CHAPTER 2

BACKGROUND OF STUDY

There is hardly a book or paper relating to organology written in the last twenty years which does not give credit to Dr. Miller; either citing one of his scientific findings in acoustics or using a photograph of an instrument from the Miller collection to give a visual example. Robert Donington in his book The Instruments of Music, 8 defines musical sounds as those having periodic vibrations at regular intervals, as opposed to noise, which are irregular vibrations. Donington's conclusions are based on the graphs which Miller developed with his phonodeik machine and were subsequently published in Miller's book The Science of Musical Sounds. 9 More recently, Philip Bate 10 credits Dr. Miller with the final formulation of the means to photograph a musical sound.

In addition to his scientific writings, Dr. Miller privately printed a catalog of the books and literary materials in his collection that related to the flute. 11 Considered a standard reference work in its field, it annotates over 1200 volumes devoted to the flute or related fields.

Photographic reproductions of the Miller collection form a major part of the pictorial history of the flute in Anthony Baines book, European and American Musical Instruments. 12 Of the 53 examples of flutes pictured in this work, 32 are from the Miller collection. This is understandable since the instruments in the Miller collection number well over 1,500 examples.

Miller also translated and annotated one of the most important works ever written for the flute. This is the Theobald Boehm book, The Flute and Flute Playing In It's Acoustical, Technical, and Artistical Relationships, written in 1871. The Miller translation was published in 1908 and revised in 1922.

As one might expect, Dr. Miller also gave lectures relative to his collection and to his work in science. One such talk was given before the Acoustical Society of America on May 3, 1931. Miller, then president of this Society, gave his lecture on the history of the flute, with relationship of tone production to acoustics being demonstrated on flutes from his own collection.

In 1925, he was required to give a retiring address as the past president of the American Physical Society. He chose to report on his studies of the unaccounted for residue in the ether drift experiments. Fortunately for him, the lecture was given before a joint session including the section B of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The result was that he won the annual prize of the Association of $1,000.

The Library of Congress publication The Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection, is a checklist of the instruments. Each flute is numbered chronologically according to Miller's purchase diary which he kept of each acquisition, and a brief description including the maker and date of manufacture is also given. To add further interest, the name and address of the person from whom the flute was purchased is also given. 13

Early in February, 1896, Dr. Miller read of the discovery of X-rays by the German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. Greatly excited, Miller went to his laboratory and set up his own apparatus. He made a photograph of Mrs. Miller's hand, a task requiring a three-hour exposure, and a few days later made the first surgical X-ray photograph in America.

Many of his scientific papers, lectures, and research findings have been published in issues of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and Science. Four of his lectures, Sound Waves Shape and Speed (1937), The Science of Musical Sounds (1916), Sparks, Lightening and Cosmic Rays (1939), and Anecdotal History of the Science of Sound were later expanded and published in book form.

The literature in the field of organology includes scholarly catalogs of nearly every known museum or library collection, and some of the larger individual collections. These catalogs and other individually published treatises, some of which have been mentioned, were written by accepted experts in the field who treat their subject with expertise based upon accepted knowledge and new findings. Many of these newer findings are first published in the Galpin Society Journal, which is devoted to research in this field.


Chapters 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 |
Abstract of Master's Report | List Of Figures | Appendix | Footnotes | Bibliography

Dayton C. Miller, His Life, Work, and Contributions | Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection Home