Item #39452 Treatise of Musick; Speculative, Practical, and Historic. Alexander MALCOLM.
Treatise of Musick; Speculative, Practical, and Historic

Treatise of Musick; Speculative, Practical, and Historic

Edinburgh: The Author, 1721.

Octavo. Full dark brown panelled calf with raised bands on spine in gilt-ruled compartments, dark tan leather title gilt to spine. Housed in a custom-made dark blue linen archival clamshell box with dark red leather title label gilt to spine. 1f. (recto title, verso blank), [iii]-v (dedication "To the most Illustrious Directors of the Royal Academy of Musick,"), [iii]-xii ("An Ode on the Power of Musick, Inscrib'd to Mr. Malcolm, as a Monument of Friendship, by Mr. Mitchell, xiii-xviii ("Table of Contents"), xix-xxiii ("Introduction"), [i] ("Corrigenda" and "Addenda"), 608 pp. Woodcut device to title and occasional decorative initials, running heads, and decorative tailpieces. With three plates (Nos. 1, 2 and 4) on 3 folding leaves following Corrigenda, plates 5 and 6 folding in text; a number of tables throughout.

Includes 58 musical examples.

Early signature ("Robt. Dickson") with flourishes to final page; contemporary annotation in ink to lower margin of pp. 220, 236.

Binding slightly worn, rubbed, bumped; hinges split; endpapers browned. Slightly worn; light browning and soiling to edges, slightly heavier to final leaves; very occasional foxing, with minor oxidation to small spot to pp. 223/24; occasional very small holes; and minor staining; two handstamps to verso of title, including "Museum Britannicum" and "Duplicate For Sale," the "Museum Britannicum" repeated to lower margin of pp. 386 and 608; other very minor defects. Lacking engraved frontispiece and plate 3 (stub preceding plate 5).

First Edition. Cortot, p. 118. Gregory-Bartlett, p. 163. Hirsch I, 339. RISM Écrits, p. 530.

Malcolm was a Scottish teacher, mathematician and clergyman who emigrated to America in 1734. "It was his Treatise of Musick: Speculative, Practical and Historical (Edinburgh, 1721, 1779/R), that established his musical reputation. Relying on the writings of Descartes, Kircher, Mersenne and others, Malcolm's object was to ‘gather together in one system what lay scattered in several treatises’. Included are chapters on the history of music and on equal-temperament tuning, instruction in elements of composition, including melody, harmony, counterpoint, intervals, the musical scale and modulation, as well as directions for tuning a harpsichord. Hawkins considered it ‘one of the most valuable treatises on the subject of theoretical and practical music to be found in any of the modern languages’, and Stone has given evidence that Malcolm was the first British author to write a history of music in English rather than Latin." James R. Heintze in Grove Music Online.

Item #39452

Price: $425.00  other currencies

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