The Unbelievable History of Music Printing – Part 2

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The next significant development in music printing was the development of the lithography. The lithograph Alda Wass Felder, a Bavarian, actually actor and playwright turns out, invented this technique for practical reasons. Let’s just first to say that lithography is drawing on a limestone, a special limestone with greasy ink or crayon pen and because grease repels water the stone would be treated and washed with a number of chemicals and it would cause the ink to apply to the paper when it was printed but but water to wash the area that you didn’t want to apply to the paper so the chemicals caused it to adhere the ink to adhere where it’s supposed to, but not do it here and actually be washed off It wasn’t supposed to.

What is interesting is that what led to this development was that Senna fell there was a playwright and just basically was broke and couldn’t reproduce his his plays he I guess he had a successful player too and then had somebody had written and wanted to reproduce and it just was too expensive to print so he actually developed this just as a cheaper way for him to produce the dramatic scripts he ended up patenting it, and it was used all over Europe.

Here’s an example where the technology advanced so that composer like a Richard Wagner. He wrote his score for Tannhauser using a special paper ink which then the paper written with a special ink could then be applied to lithography plate or stone, and so this would be a more from. As the technology progressed where we’re lithography and music printing lead and so this is some of Tannhauser that we’re listening to. As we look at this autograph score by Wagner, notice also that on the autograph score. Probably the paper already had the staves on it notice that that earlier woodcut in some of the other earlier techniques, The stays were part of what was carved whereas here the Vagner would have had the staves already on the paper and just used his pen.

We get into the 20th century and metal engraving is king for a long time metals. That metal plates that would have been actually carved, would be made of copper or zinc or pewter and you can see that in the picture on the left there’s actually a scoring tool that has five burrs on it that is then with a ruler scraped across the plate and it scores the five lines, in fact, that is probably I believe where the terms score comes from is that he’s scoring the plate and then fixed symbols like clefts and note heads things that were uniform and could be repeated worth were hammered into the plate if there was a mistake you’d have to hammer it back out and in the end these burrs these little rasps or whatever had to be you know cleaned off and pined the plate had to be polished so that it could you know ink could be applied and it could be used.

So metal engraving when we actually use the term that music is engraved. It comes from this this actual practice and and really an art this is an example of a score that or a piece of music that would have been put through that process this is Alexander our tune Ian’s trumpet concerto will visit this music a little bit later on but let’s just take a little detour because this is a professional level type of music production or at least the most permanent professional-level reproduction but at the same time as that was happening more expedient types of music would have been done with an ink pen on vellum paper, for instance, and that was able to be reproduced the same way for instance.

Draftsman and architects would reproduce blueprints with a nozzle lid process where the paper is translucent. Its light can shine through it so the ink is it’s not translucent and when you write in pen on that, kind of vellum paper, then you can place that Elam paper up against a type of a film that has what is called a die. Then as compound ultraviolet light is exposed to the film and then later it’s developed with an ammonia vapor and you get what those of us who are old enough to have read the old Broadway book. That’s the way that that music looked.

What you’re looking at actually is a piece of music I wrote for my wife in 1988 as a Christmas present. It was a series of five Christmas carols that I set sort of in a contemporary fashion and gave it to her as a Christmas gift and it turns out it was my first published piece of music. But when I actually presented it to Kim, my wife, the music was in this ink with a metal nib pen using that special ink on vellum paper and then at the Free Library of Philadelphia 19th and Vine Street in Philadelphia, I believe, they still even do this.

They were the only place I could find that would reproduce music that way but I feel very fortunate to have sort of come up. In a time when they were still doing music that way even though that we were just about on the advent of computer music software, like the finale.