JF Ptak Science Books Post 1358
[Above: a gorgeous display of ear bones of humans and animals: reading across the top: man, cow, hors,e dog, leopard, cat, rat, pig and sheep, coming from Athanasius Kircher's book on sound and acoustics, and about the first of its kind: Musurgia Universalis, printed in Rome in 1650. Image from Special Collections of the University of Glasgow library, and which is the bottom half of the engraving reproduced int he "notes" section1.]
It seems that almost all of human history's hearing has been impressionistic--a collection of aural landscapes that would disappear as soon as they were ended, unless of course someone was there to write down what was heard on papyrus or sand or mud or clay or paper. Finding the sound was important because, well, it was a single-shot phenomenon, unless it was repeated by the presenter, or someone else copied the presentation, or wrote it down so that it could be read and interpreted later. It was a phenomenal invention of Mr. Edison's that brought the possibility capturing sound so that it could be played over and over again, the experience becoming a simple piece of technology available to anyone who could afford it.
The odd thing now is that virtually everything is findable, recordable, archivable. We can also hear just about anything from just about anywhere. Before the telephone--invented by Mr. Bell only 135 years ago--in order to hear something from a distance beyond the normal auditory range, a person would've needed the assistance of objects such as these "propagation horns" from Kempsten's Phonurgia nova (of 1673, pictured at left). Sir Samuel Morland, a fantastic English polymath (1625-1695) also produced an instrument similar to this in his stentoro-phonica, constructed in the 1660's It is in a way similar to the giant listening devices devised and constructed by the Imperial Japanese Army in the earliest days of WWII, prior to their use of radar. Or, if one was a monarch or other highly placed aristocratic or ruling class person, one could have used something like Kircher's listening device, found again in his Musurgia Universalis of 1650 so that a little eavesdropping might go on from one far-placed room to the next.