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Federal Harmony; Containing, In a Familiar Manner, The Rudiments of Psalmody, Together with a Collection of Church Music; (Most of which are entirely new)
New Haven: A. Morse, 1790. Oblong (116 x 192 mm). 24 leaves complete, comprising: [4], title, verso blank, introductory note, Index; [9]-12, General Directions for Learners; 5-8 rudiments; plates 1-36 on 18 leaves, music. Original sheep-backed boards. Spine partly perished, vertical crease to front board; some pale browning. FIRST EDITION OF A VERY SCARCE FEDERAL-ERA COLLECTION OF MUSIC, and one of the earliest American works to offer instruction of the voice: "Be easy in manner, expression and voice. Fall naturally into the air of the tune and sentiments of the words; Execute them feelingly without affectation, grimace or apparent effort" (p. 12). The volume contains 40 compositions, including one set-piece, for four voices. Attributions are to Oliver Brownson (3), Lewis Edson (3), Joseph Fasset, Michael Keys, Justin Morgan (8), Daniel Read (2), Timothy Swan (2). Thirty are printed here for the first time, and there are thirty-three American compositions. Very rare: not in Sabin. Evans 22340 (Evans 22919 describes a different work of the same title, printed Boston: John Norman, 1790). Britton and Lowens, 'American Sacred Music Imprints,' no. 89, locating only four copies in 1979 and noting that Britton located two more in 1949 that were no longer recorded (no copies are found in OCLC/Worldcat). This copy, like that at the Library of Congress, is found with pages [9]-12 and 5-8 transposed, and has p. 13 numbered correctly. According to auction records, this is the only copy to appear since the Brinley sale in 1881. Benham, born in New Hartford, Connecticut, was one of several Federal-era psalmodists who followed the example set by William Billings's 'New-England Psalm-singer' (Boston, 1769). That landmark publication increased the number of original American compositions by nearly tenfold, and other composers and collections followed this example. The stylistic differences among American psalmodists evolved in the 1770s and 80s, and Benham shared a stylistic framework both relatively uniform and influential with fellow Connecticut composers Daniel Read, Lewis Edson, and Oliver Brownson, whom he collected in this work. Together, these composers allow "one to be able to speak of a unique American musical idiom" (Richard Crawford, "Psalmody," in The New Grove 15:346-47).
      [Bookseller: Riverrun Books & Manuscripts]
Last Found On: 2018-02-15           Check availability:      Direct From Seller    


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