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La Tonotechnie ou l'Art de noter les Cylindres - ENGRAMELLE, Marie Dominique Jos - 1775. [1272182]
Engraved frontis., five folding engraved plates (one with careful repairs to folds on verso), & a few illus. in the text. Engraved head-piece on first leaf of dedication. Pages 43-50 are larger folding leaves entitled "Table de Caractères" with woodcuts. 5 p.l. (incl. frontis.), xxvii, [1], 236, [4] pp. 8vo, modern red morocco, uncut. Paris: P.M. Delaguette, 1775. First edition of this extraordinarily prescient work in the field of automatic instruments, of great interest to musicologists and historians of computing alike. With almost mathematical exactitude Engramelle successfully designed a playback system that was never superseded until the advent of MIDI technology in 1983. "When Joseph Engramelle introduced a new method of notating music, designed to enable pinners of cylinders to reproduce the minute details of articulation and rhythmic nuance that characterized the best keyboard playing (La Tonothechnie, 1775), he became one of the first writers to show a concern for the artistic possibilities of automatic instruments and an appreciation of their historical value for future generations."-Harvard Dictionary of Music, "Automatic Instrument," p. 68. Engramelle (1727-1805), was a French builder of mechanical instruments. His most enduring legacy is his "recordings" of contemporary composers performing their own works. With extraordinary fidelity, the inventor was able to achieve this by employing a numbered dial (cadran) used in "notating" the studded barrels of mechanical musical instruments. But Engramelle's invention was no binomial player-piano or musical box. "His care and subtlety in using the duration of notes to heighten metrical organization gives vivid results. The precision of his directions for performing equal notes unequally shows remarkable sensitivity to musical style as well as invention in clarifying meter."-George Houle, Meter in Music, 1600-1800: Performance, Perception, and Notation (1999), p. 122. Engramelle's system provided a means to unlock secrets of performance that would have been lost otherwise. For instance, the "martellement" (a hammering, or sharp accent) had not yet been indicated by a sign. Its existence is known only from the results of the present work, and from the diagrams Engramelle prepared for his chapter on "Tonotechnie" in Vol. IV of Dom Bedos de Celles' L'Art du Facteur d'Orgues (Paris, 1778). Herein we also find the first real evidence of the use of "hard swing" (i.e. notes inégale ratio 3:1) in the 18th-century. Engramelle was concerned primarily with articulation; his elaborate code of separation of notes down to the smallest possible degree was based on the playing of the finest musicians and composers of the day, notably Claude Balbastre (1724-99), at that time one of the most famous in Europe. Balbastre played ornaments over and over so that Engramelle could notate them with mathematical accuracy. In the matter of articulation, it is through Engramelle that we have the first permanent record of actual performance style. "Engramelle was explicitly concerned with the preservation of historic performing styles and realized that composers of even the recent past would be 'disgusted' at the way their works were played in his own time."-David Fuller, "An Introduction to Automatic Instruments" in Early Music, (April 1983), pp. 164-66. As is well known, Charles Babbage proposed a "mechanical engine" which would capture and store raw data, offer an interactive user interface, and output the results exactly. But Babbage's machine existed only in theory: Engramelle's invention actually worked, and it continues to work in the manner that it was intended, as we hear in the Patrick Feaster's audio CD which accompanies his pioneering Pictures of Sound. One Thousand Years of Educed Audio: 980-1980 (2012). Engramelle's device was programmed by an arrangement of pins driven into the surface of a cylinder, a process known as barrel pinning. He devised an innovative method using a dial that made it possible to determine exact durations of notes, and then to document them out on the cylinder. "Previously, several attempts had been made in Europe to mark up a cylinder and a roll of paper directly from the keyboard - an analogue process. Engramelle's device was digital: it calibrated the values of the notes according to the divisions of his dial. For him, le vrai génie of the great musicians was an ideal to be expressed with gout. Reproduced by a machine, their interpretations would - he hoped - be preserved for future generations with perfect accuracy."-Yuko Suzuki, "The Development of a Device for Documenting Musical Performance Practice in 18th Century France focusing on M.-D.-J. Engramelle's Tonotechnie (1775) and his Contribution to L'Art du Facteur d'Orgues (1778)" in Ongakugaku: Journal of the Musicological Society of Japan, Vol. LV, No. 2 (2009). Ultimately, automatic instruments are documents of performance and Engramelle's was the very first to capture a real one. "The program reflects actual live performance by Balbastre, in the presence of Engramelle, who monitored the timing of the recording precisely to the second. Engramelle's work is a unique document in the history of 18th century performance practice, and the only piece for a mechanical instrument both set up under the direction of the composer and specifically designed to exhibit its ability to reproduce the ornamentation, articulation, and rhythmic nuances of an ideal live performance."-Benjamin Beck, First Sound Recordings, online at Engramelle's system was the harbinger of MIDI sequencing in capturing pitch, duration, and force (velocity) of each note. The output of the real-time recordings was editable so that near perfect renditions of actual performances could be created. As a result, the composer became a producer, involved in all steps from conception to final sounding. Very good copy. Contemporary ownership inscription on half-title and title. ? Chapuis, Histoire de la Boite à Musique et de la Musique mécanique, pp. 27-32.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2016-11-25           Check availability:      Biblio    


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