The following passage appears in the preface to the first edition of P. Morse’s Vibration and Sound (1936).

The vacuum tube and the other applications of electronics have provided immensely powerful tools for the measurement, recording, and reproduction of sound; tools which have revolutionized acoustic technique.

The word technique is apparently being used as a mass noun, though my intuition is that in today’s American English such a usage is not common. Would someone care to discuss on the mass/noun status of this noun in different dialects of English during different time periods, or provide a general discussion of historical changes between mass/count status?

I have made no effort to consult readily available reference works in order to answer my question before posting here.

  • 1
    Two points. 1. You are likely to find XXX technique very commonly used among musicians. In fact among guitarists you might even see acoustic technique used exactly as above, but of course referring to how one uses one's fingers. 2. This really looks like an editorial error. No way of knowing, but in context the word "technology" would fit perfectly. – MetaEd Jul 31 '13 at 21:04
  • 3
    This is not an editorial error. It is how musicians describe the discipline of playing an instrument. Sometimes it is referred to as technic, and the use of technique may derive from that. But as someone who spent many long years practicing instruments, I can tell you that "technique" is a term used freely in that world. It is analogous grammatically to words like strength or facility or skill, etc. – Robusto Jul 31 '13 at 21:12
  • 3
    You hear it all the time when watching the Olympics. The talking heads often describe a gymnast as, "She has great technique." – oosterwal Aug 1 '13 at 0:34
  • 1
    @Robusto: Hence the quotation marks! – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Aug 1 '13 at 3:43
  • 1
    What is the final disclaimer supposed to mean? “I have made no effort to consult readily available reference works in order to answer my question before posting here.” Isn’t that being naughty? – tchrist Aug 1 '13 at 11:52

The word is not exactly being used as a "mass noun" as you contend.

It is used in reference to a field of activity/ a discipline/ a body of knowledge/ a practice.

Acoustic technique here implies the practice of "measurement, recording, and reproduction of sound."

See example for the distinction between technique, the discipline, and techniques, the individual methods: [note the emphasis, mine]

Acoustic Technique 101: Alternate tunings, using a capo and travis picking
Guitarist November 21, 2012, 9:30 GMT
If you want to play the acoustic guitar effectively, then it’s worth adding some extra basic techniques and approaches to how you would play your electric guitar.

| improve this answer | |

• [mass noun] skill or ability in a particular field: he has excellent technique | [in singular] : an established athlete with a very good technique.

| improve this answer | |
  • This might be a good answer if the source of the information were cited, Without citations, any information is just opinion.. Consider editing this answer, and include your source. – J. Taylor Jan 25 '18 at 10:24