CHAPTER V: SOUNDING VESSELS IN THE THEATRE
1. IN accordance with the foregoing investigations on mathematical principles, let bronze vessels be made, proportionate to the size of the theatre, and let them be so fashioned that, when touched, they may produce with one another the notes of the fourth, the fifth, and so on up to the double octave. Then, having constructed niches in between the seats of the theatre, let the vessels be arranged in them, in accordance with musical laws, in such a way that they nowhere touch the wall, but have a clear space all round them and room over their tops. They should be set upside down, and be supported on the side facing the stage by wedges not less than half a foot high. Opposite each niche, apertures should be left in the surface of the seat next below, two feet long and half a foot deep.
2. The arrangement of these vessels, with reference to the situations in which they should be placed, may be described as follows. If the theatre be of no great size, mark out a horizontal range halfway up, and in it construct thirteen arched niches with twelve equal spaces between them, so that of the above mentioned “echea” those which give the note nete hyperbolaeon may be placed first on each side, in the niches which are at the extreme ends; next to the ends and a fourth below in pitch, the note nete diezeugmenon; third, paramese, a fourth below; fourth, nete synhemmenon; fifth, mese, a fourth below; sixth, hypate meson, a fourth below; and in the middle and another fourth below, one vessel giving the note hypate hypaton.
3. On this principle of arrangement, the voice, uttered from the stage as from a centre, and spreading and striking against the cavities of the different vessels, as it comes in contact with them, will be increased in clearness of sound, and will wake an harmonious note in unison with itself. But if the theatre be rather large, let its height be divided into four parts, so that three horizontal ranges of niches may be marked out and constructed: one for the enharmonic, another for the chromatic, and the third for the diatonic system. Beginning with the bottom range, let the arrangement be as described above in the case of a smaller theatre, but on the enharmonic system.
4. In the middle range, place first at the extreme ends the vessels which give the note of the chromatic hyperbolaeon;
5. No vessel is to be placed in the middle, for the reason that there is no other note in the chromatic system that forms à natural concord of sound. In the highest division and range of niches, place at the extreme ends vessels fashioned so as to give the note of the diatonic hyperbolaeon; next, the diatonic diezeugmenon, a fourth below; third, the diatonic synhemmenon; fourth, the diatonic meson, a fourth below; fifth, the diatonic hypaton, a fourth below; sixth, the proslambanomenos, a fourth below; in the middle, the note mese, for this is both the octave to proslambanomenos, and the concord of the fifth to the diatonic hypaton.
6. Whoever wishes to carry out these principles with ease, has only to consult the scheme at the end of this book, drawn up in accordance with the laws of music. It was left by Aristoxenus, who with great ability and labour classified and arranged in it the different modes. In accordance with it, and by giving heed to these theories, one can easily bring a theatre to perfection, from the point of view of the nature of the voice, so as to give pleasure to the audience.
7. Somebody will perhaps say that many theatres are built every year in Rome, and that in them no attention at all is paid to these principles; but he will be in error, from the fact that all our public theatres made of wood contain a great deal of boarding, which must be resonant. This may be observed from the behaviour of those who sing to the lyre, who, when they wish to sing in a higher key, turn towards the folding doors on the stage, and thus by their aid are reinforced with a sound in harmony with the voice. But when theatres are built of solid materials like masonry, stone, or marble, which cannot be resonant, then the principles of the “echea” must be applied.
8. If, however, it is asked in what theatre these vessels have been employed, we cannot point to any in Rome itself, but only to those in the districts of Italy and in a good many Greek states. We have also the evidence of Lucius Mummius, who, after destroying the theatre in Corinth, brought its bronze vessels to Rome, and made a dedicatory offering at the temple of Luna with the money obtained from the sale of them. Besides, many skilful architects, in constructing theatres in small towns, have, for lack of means, taken large jars made of clay, but similarly resonant, and have produced very advantageous results by arranging them on the principles described.