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History of Technology of Music

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The C15th


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1404: Origins of the Clavichord: (See earlier on the monochordium in antiquity.) The word clavichord appears first in 1404 in rules for Minnesingers as drawn up by Eberhard Cersne. In 1477 the choirmaster of Lincoln Cathedral, William Horwood, is appointed to teach choirboys the clavichord. The clavichord uses the principle of a struck string, not a plucked string, as does the piano.

1412: Wind Chimes: China's emperor Zhu Di out of filial piety begins to build what is in the C18th and C19th regarded as one of the great wonders of the world, an octagonal pagoda made of porcelain, to venerate Empress Ma. It is nine stories high, or more than 240 feet. Some 152 porcelain bells chime in the wind. Around it are placed beautiful gardens and exotic trees. All is destroyed in the Taiping Rebellion of 1856. (Levathes, When China Rules The Seas)

About 1430AD: "The concept of using a "whole consort" or choir of instruments of the same type arises early in the Fifteenth Century with the maturer, more harmonious schools of polyphony. The improved sounds of the organ may have provided inspiration for multi-use of recorders. (Baines)

1440++ - Franz Josef Hirt, Stringed Keyboard Instruments, 1440-1880. (Meisterwerke des Klavierbaues) Olten, 1955. Translated by M. Boehme-Raum, Boston, 1968.

new1.gif - 3972 Bytes Innovation circa 1450: Approximate date for invention of the harpsichord, perhaps in territory controlled by the Duke of Burgundy. In German, the kielflugel, in French, the clavecin; in Italian the cembalo (a contraction of a word for a keyed dulcimer, when in reality the instrument is a keyed psaltery). Of relevance here are also words for the spinet: In Italian, spinetta, in German, the spinett, in French the epinette. It is presumed that the spinet was invented by a Venetian named Spinetus. The harpsichord was sometimes regarded as "little spinet". In England, the spinet became known as the virginal (which was played by Queen Elizabeth 1 (a virgin queen), but the word virginal for the instrument was in use before her time.

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About 1450: From about 1450, notation for lute music begins as "tablature", with letters of the alphabet or numbers used to indicate on which fret of which course of string a note is to be played. An older German system for this was perhaps invented by a blind German organist, Paumann (died 1473); which system used different letters throughout. The earliest printed lute-books were Italian, largely as the liveliest use of the lute was in Italy. The earliest German lute tablature dates to about 1512 (with Schlick). By about 1512, Spain's musicians used not the lute, but the vihuela (guitar), which however was tuned like a lute. From 1536 onwards, Spaniard Luis Milan produced music titled El Maestro. The Golden Age of the lute was 1590-1630. Collections of lute music were published, especially Besard's Thesaurus Harmonicus of 1603, which presented 400 pieces.

For this website's growing Glossary of Musical Terms and definitions, &c, and other items of interest, see: The HoTM Glossary

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