The Unbelievable History of Music Printing – Part 1

Let’s visit some of the most significant developments in that history and I can think of no better place to start then Oh Guido. Oh Guido was born around 1,000 in France and was a Benedictine monk but in some time, he became the choirmaster in Arezzo an Italian town and that’s obviously why his name has that association.

The challenge of his job and of all the choirmasters of that day was teaching there the men and boys and their choirs probably what were hundreds of service music for the mass of the throughout the Catholic Church year and they relied on rote to do this. Although words and even some rhythmic indications in jottings and pens called neumes were used, they were very general and there was a lot of openness to interpretation, so the church was very concerned that everybody would learn to sing them uniformly and we do solve that around 1025 by developing a system of neumes on either two or three or four lines staff which aided the singers in knowing what the pitches were and the neumes.

The more developed they got, they indicated the rhythm more exactly. It turned out that he was very popular, he was celebrated for having done that Pope John the 19th brought him to Rome in 1028 to demonstrate his technique. How is it that he could teach his choir so many songs so fast and so accurately well? it was because of this advance and music notation. Here’s an example of a four-line staff with neumes on it, now this is later, this is 1370 Italian illuminated manuscript and you can see illuminated meaning that the letter O and omen a there is basically developed into a pane it’s own and so it’s very pretty to look at manuscript, and this is all done by hand by copyists, by monks and monasteries and so forth. Notice that there are no bar lines also on this music.

The first printed music, according to the new grove dictionary music, was in 1457 a volume called codex spa moorim and interestingly the text was printed, but the music, there was space left for the music to be added manually so here we still don’t have music being printed from a press but rather by hand. Here’s another example of neumes on staff but here it’s a five-line staff in. Around 1500 in Spain – still no bar lines but you can see the neumes are getting a more uniform looking and simpler actually, and they’re starting to resemble the
containers that we call note heads. Now and then here in France, a manuscript in 1625 although we’re back to the four-line staff. Obviously, the five-line staff had not become standardized yet, but the there something looks like a clef at the beginning of each line, and also notice there are bar lines now, so meter is something that’s being metrical groupings are something that’s being thought of. Now we have example of woodcut printing, an Italian example from almost fifteen hundred around the same time as that last example this is kind of like something i did in middle school art class we called it block printing where we’d have a linoleum block that we carve out with a knife or with some kind of a carving tool and then take a roller roll the ink across it and then put it up against a piece of paper, press on it and you have your sort of a reverse printing technique. Notice the word tenter, a tenor and Cantus on the left side and here’s the block of wood where the words tenor and Cantus are in reverse, the right side, so everything had to be carved out in reverse for this kind of a process.

Everybody knows about the development of the movable type, in other words, that letters could be moved in and out of the printing press that Johannes Gutenberg invented around 1440 and that led to things like this the moveable type music printing. Petrucci is the name of the font in the program finale or at least it used to be the name of the font in some of the earlier versions of the finale and that’s where they came up with that name for that font.

Petrucci is credited with producing the first book of sheet music on a movable type, printing press like this and if you line up some of the most famous composers of the Renaissance there’s a reason probably why his music was more widely disseminated, not just because he was a great composer but also he had technology on his side. This is also the same technology that the psalm book the Geneva and Salter would have been printing out that Salter is very famous in the history of the church English separatists and not separatists who basically where the Pilgrims and the Puritans would have had this in their him you’re looking at a rhythm called one-hundredth because it was a setting of the 100th psalm and that’s what a Salter was.