ABSTRACT

The first recorded use of the term ‘acoustics’ in the English language occurs in Francis Bacon's Of the Advancement of Learning, published in 1605.1 In tracing the application of the word over the succeeding centuries, it was used up until the mid-1800s, mainly in reference to magical and mechanical contraptions and instruments, rather than in allusion to an environment or to a mediating context. In fact, the term, since its inception – in a journey from adjective to noun – has retained connotations of mechanical contraption, magical phenomenon, biological function and finally, since the mid-nineteenth century, of the qualitative.2