The rise of military music around 1800 offers a suggestive context in which to examine the connections between science, music, and the military. Olinthus Gregory was representative of a community of reform-minded mathematicians and astronomers who sought to introduce greater precision and more mathematics into science, applying mathematical calculation to music and the sciences. His proposal to regulate tempo with a pendulum followed what was no doubt a familiar sight for him at the Woolwich Arsenal—the use of the pendulum by the drum-major to regulate marching music. Indeed, a number of such projects converged on Woolwich, an experimental space where new scientific and musical regimes emerged. The “calculating eye” secured authority by presenting science as objective and freed of emotions, but music's ability to evoke emotions was powerful. Thus, while music was a resource for the exact science promoted at the Arsenal, it could also threaten it.
Disciplinary Culture: Artillery, Sound, and Science in Woolwich, 1800–1850
Simon Werrett is a senior lecturer in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London. His research examines economies of practice and material culture in early modern science. His first book, Fireworks: Pyrotechnic Arts and Sciences in European History, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010. He is currently completing a monograph on the economy of experiment in early modern Europe.
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Simon Werrett; Disciplinary Culture: Artillery, Sound, and Science in Woolwich, 1800–1850. 19th-Century Music 1 November 2015; 39 (2): 87–98. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ncm.2015.39.2.87
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