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MMD > Archives > June 2007 > 2007.06.25 > 01Prev  Next

Recording Keyboard by John Joseph Merlin
By Jeffrey Borinsky

Some of you will know the Finchcocks collection of early keyboard
instruments:  Richard Burnett gives
excellent and enthusiastic demonstrations and visitors are welcome
to play any of the instruments.  Well worth a visit.

On a recent PPG group visit I bought a copy of the book, "Company
of Pianos," by Burnett.  This superb and lavish book with CD is almost
an encyclopaedia of early pianos and well worth the £30 price.  It was
on special launch offer at £20 when we visited.

On page 141 (alas without any references) he mentions a device by piano
builder John Joseph Merlin (1735-1803) comprising a clockwork operated
system with a long roll of paper that could mark in pencil the pitch
and duration of each note that was played.  It was actually built into
a harpsichord rather than a piano but that seems to be of secondary
importance.  Burnett says that the purpose of this device was to record
improvisations, but he notes that no such recordings have come down to
us.  He does not say if any of these recording devices have survived.

Jeffrey Borinsky

(Message sent Mon 25 Jun 2007, 07:48:59 GMT, from time zone GMT+0100.)

Key Words in Subject:  John, Joseph, Keyboard, Merlin, Recording

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