Paris: P.M. Delaguette, 1775.
Octavo. Full dark green pebbled cloth with titling gilt to spine, decorative light pink endpapers with embossed floral motif, silk ribbon marker, all edges gilt. 1f. (recto half-title, verso blank), 1f. (recto blank, verso fine frontispiece engraving by Engramelle demonstrating the manufacture of cylinders of mechanical musical instruments, a harpsichord with a cylinder, a cylinder organ, and an automaton playing the flute), 1f. (recto title, verso blank), 2ff. (dedication and explanation of plates), viii ("Avertissement"), ix-xxvii (preface), [xxviii] (errata), 236 pp. + 1f. ("Table"), 1f. ("Approbation" and "Privilége") + plates 2-5 (plate 1 following page 140). With musical examples to 4 folding leaves within text (pp. 43-50).
Woodcut head- and tailpieces throughout; one small woodcut historiated initial; several woodcut tables and diagrams in text.
The 5 large folding plates (one following page 140 and four following end of text), all engraved by Engramelle, include an illustration of the numbered dial (cadran), tools, and numerous notational examples. An additional folding leaf with extensive notes in contemporary manuscript with detailed instructions for playing the instrument follows plate 5.
Faint dampstaining to lower portions of most leaves; very occasional foxing and small stains; several leaves creased; edges of some plates slightly soiled and creased with some very minor tears to blank areas; several small paper repairs. Small former owner's handstamp to front pastedown "A. Van Loock... Bruxelles."
Binding slightly worn, rubbed, bumped, and stained. A very good, crisp and clean copy overall.
First Edition. Gregory-Bartlett p. 83. Cortot p. 71. RISM BVI p. 293 (5 copies in the U.S.).
Engramelle was a French builder of mechanical instruments.
"After hearing an Italian musician performing keyboard sonatas at Nancy, Engramelle envisaged a machine which would preserve such performances and repeat them at will on the keyboard. His subsequent experiments resulted in two important developments: a form of shorthand for indicating exactly all forms of musical ornamentation, and the establishment of the principles of mechanical music through the conversion of music to pins and staples on a barrel. By the time Engramelle published his important study La tonotechnie – in which the procedure was explained – in 1775 the craft of barrel pinning was already well established. His ‘shorthand’ clearly owed much to that used by François Couperin. Although Engramelle’s process ‘for geometrically dividing the notes’ was greeted with mixed opinion (Fétis considered it ‘une idée fausse’), the description of his invention of the numbered dial (cadran) and its application in ‘notating’ the cylinders of mechanical musical instruments represented an important step forward in his time and constitutes an invaluable source of information today on French and late Baroque performing practices. Engramelle’s study also provides charts for pinning 12 pieces of music. From this can be drawn several interesting observations: all tempos are strikingly fluid; endings are clearly retarded; the inequality of notes inégales ranges in proportion from 3:1 to 9:7; staccato takes precedence over legato; there are minute gradations of staccato (which is, however, normally extremely short), and there are similarly fine shades of differentiation for legato; grace notes are short and invariably fall on the beat; no trills maintain the same rapidity throughout; and finally all such ‘rules’ are allowed broad freedom in their application (see illustration). Engramelle’s work was subsequently revised and expanded by François Bédos de Celles." Hans-Peter Schmitz and Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume in Grove Music Online.
Mozart wrote three works for mechanical instruments: K594 Adagio and Allegro in F minor for a clock organ; K608 Fantasy in F minor for mechanical organ; and K616 Andante in F major for a barrel organ. Haydn and Beethoven also composed music for the barrel organ.
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