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History of Technology of Music

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The C17th

More on history of technology of music

new1.gif - 3972 Bytes1603: Publication of a great collection 400 pieces of lute music from all over Europe, Besard's Thesaurus Harmonicus.

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1607: For his opera, L'Orfeo, composer Monteverdi wants to use two harpsichords! Unheard of!
1607: The first performance of Monteverdi's baroque opera, Orfeo, based on the Greek myth of Oprheus and Eurydice. (Orpheus wishes to bring his doomed lover back from the underworld.) To match his settings, the pastoral fields of Thrace and the underworld's infernal fires, Monteverdi stretched his choice of instruments to be used to an 0"enormous range" and demanded great technical skill from their players. This was especially so for the cornetto, early versions of which (of course) had no valves, and had widely spaced holes for fingering, in days when the cornetto was regarded as the best match for a human voice. (At the time, along with the cornetto, other instruments used might be chitarrones, cithers and sackbuts).

1610: Circa: One of the most valued books on old instruments is that of Michael Praetorius, (1571-1621), director of music for the Duke of Brunswick at Wolfenbuttel. Praetorius' work was shortly amplified by Marin Mersenne (1588-1648) working in France.

1610: Barnaby Rich writes that in 1610, "the Irish have harpers and these are so reverences among them that in the time of rebellion they will forbear to hurt either their persons or their goods ... and every great man in the country hath his rhymer and his harper". Bacon once wrote, "No harp hath the sound so melting and prolonged as the Irish harp."

1618: By now, the clavichord, which is cheap, conveniently-sized and discreet in tone, is described as "the foundation of all keyboard instruments" by Praetorius.

1619: Michael Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum. Wolfenbuttel, 1619, reprint, Kassell, 1929.

Circa 1620: The fierce anti-Spanish prejudice of post-Elizabethan England is shown in the two lyrics below: Anti-Spanish vehemence lasted long in English cultural life.
Take this scone to wear this horn, it was the crest when you were born,
Your father's father wore it and your father wore it too...
Hal-an-Tow, jolly rumble-o, We were up, long before the day-o.
To welcome in the summer, to welcome in the May-o.
The summer is a comin' and the winter's gone away-o.
What happened to the Spaniards, that makes a greater boast though?
Why they shall eat the feathered goose, and we shall eat the roast-o
Hal-an-Tow. Jolly rumble-o. We were up, long before the day-o.

And again:
And now I will tell of brave Elliott, the first youth that enters the ring,
and so proudly rejoice I to tell it, ... he fought for his country and king.
When the Spaniards besieged Gibraltar t'was Elliott defended the place,
and he soon caused their plans for to alter, some died, others fell in disgrace..

From (1) Hal-an-Tow and (2) Earsdon Sword Dance Song, sung by UK folksingers, The Watersons, Frost and Fire: A Calendar of Ceremonial Folk Songs. Topic Records, UK. 12T136.


1625: Hans Heiden of Nuremburg in Germany constructs a Geigenwerk, a variant of the harpsichord - "a sort of big viol with a keyboard, shaped like a grand piano, with four wheels emerging from the soundboard, worked by a crank, against which the strings were lowered when the keys were depressed". It is soon copied in Spain by Raymundo Truchador, in France by Cusinier, by Le Voir, and in Germany. (Cusinier in 1708 built a clavecin-vielle and perfected it by 1734.)

1636-1637: Marin Mersenne, Harmonie Universelle. Paris, 1636-1637.

1637-1690: J. A. L. de Meraux, Les Clavecinistes de 1637 a 1690. Paris, 1867.

1640: P. Trichet, Traite des instrument de musique. c. 1640. Ed., F. Lesure, Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1957.

1650: A. Kircher, Musurgia universalis. Rome, 1650.

new1.gif - 3972 Bytes 1650: A new type of horn instrument appears, first in France (but this is a disputed fact), with a small bore than the helical horn and made in the form of a hoop, first with two coils, then by 1690 with one coil. It becomes the ancestor of the French horn. It probably reaches England around 1661 with the English Restoration. In London they were manufactured by William Bull.

1687: Daniel Speer, Grundrichtiger Unterricht der musikalischen Kunst. Ulm, 1687, 1697.
1687: In Germany, Daniel Speer revives the tradition of providing music tutors and commentaries on music and instruments.



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