Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/448

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
There was a problem when proofreading this page.

characters inserted in a wooden block, the stave lines being also of copper inserted in another block and printed separately from the notes. The words were set up in ordinary types, then stereotyped and inserted in grooves in one of the blocks. His patent is dated April 5, 1827, and numbered 5484.

In Scheurman's process (1856) the notes, set up in type, were impressed on a wax mould and the stave lines superadded to the same mould, from which a stereotype cast was taken. But the double operation was difficult, and the mould liable to damage; and the plan was abandoned.

The old system, however, of using separate types has been so much improved upon by Messrs. Novello & Co., Henderson, Rait, and Fenton, and other printers, and the stave lines are now so well joined, that the appearance and distinctness of type-music leave little to be desired. This result, as has been justly observed by Mr. Henderson, is due chiefly to the use of stereotype, which enables printers to employ the most perfect, and consequently very expensive, kind of types. If these were used to print a large edition, they would soon be damaged; and even if this were not the case, it would never pay the publisher to keep such a mass of type set up against the time when a fresh edition might be required. The types must be distributed and used for other works; and the expensive labour of setting up must be incurred afresh for each new edition. All this is avoided by taking a stereotype cast from the types, which can be done at a small cost, and kept in store to be printed from whenever there is afresh demand for copies. The type is then released, and serves over again for other works or other pages of the same work, retaining its sharpness unimpaired. Another advantage of stereotyping is that many little defects in the types can be remedied in the plate—greatly to the advantage of the impression.

An inspection of the following examples will shew how type-music is built up of many small parts. Thus the single quaver and its stave are composed of seven small pieces, which are dissected and shown separately in the second example. The same is done for the group of three quavers, which is made up of sixteen separate pieces.

II. The printing of music from engraved copper plates is supposed to have begun at Rome, where a collection of Canzonets—'Diletto spirituale'—was engraved by Martin van Buyten, and published by Simone Verovio in 1586, and subsequently books of airs, etc., composed by Kapsperger, dated 1604–1612. In France the great house of Ballard, already mentioned, began to use engraving towards the end of Louis XIV.'s reign; some of Lully's operas being printed from types and some from engraved copper-plates. The Germans of course practised the art, the most interesting specimen of which is a book of Clavierübung, or exercises, composed and engraved by the great John Sebastian Bach himself. In England the same process was used for a collection of pieces by Bull, Byrd, and Gibbons, entitled 'Parthenia,' engraved by Wm. Hole, and published in 1611; for single songs engraved by Thomas Cross before and after 1700; by Cluer for Handel's 'Suites de Pieces' and other music (1720 etc.), and for Dr. Croft's 'Musicus Apparatus Acaderaicus' (1713?), and 'Musica Sacra' (1724). [See Cross, Cluer, Croft, in vol. i.]

The process of scratching each note separately on the copper with a graver was obviously an expensive one; but the Dutch contrived to soften the metal so as to render it susceptible of an impression from the stroke of a hammer on a punch, the point of which had the form of a musical note—a method not only much cheaper, but also insuring greater uniformity of appearance; and accordingly they were very successful with their numerous publications from and after the year 1700. A punched copper-plate from Dublin, only about 40 years old, was shown at the Caxton Exhibition in 1877.

As early as 1710 it was found that pewter plates were cheaper and easier to stamp than copper. In London John Walsh and John Hare, Richard Mears, Cluer and Creake, Thomas Cross, junior, and William Smith (an apprentice of Walsh's) printed music from stamped pewter plates. These were very coarsely executed; but at length one Phillips, a Welshman, so improved the process that, according to Hawkins, music was scarcely anywhere so well printed as in England in his time.

This is the process that continues to be used to the present day, and by which such magnificent specimens as the editions of the Bachgesellschaft, and that of Palestrina (both by Breitkopfs of Leipzig), or the edition of Handel by Dr. Chrysander, are produced. Messrs. Novello & Co. have recently imported German workmen, and their edition of Mendelssohn's P.F. works in one volume (Christmas 1879), or the first publication of the Purcell Society, rival the best productions of Leipzig for clearness and elegance. In order to save the pewter plates from wear, it is now the custom to transfer an impression from the plate to a lithographic stone or to zinc, and then print copies at the lithographic press. This also enables the printer to use a better and blacker ink than if the plates themselves had to be printed from; but the impressions are liable to smudge, and are inferior in clearness to those from the plates, unless indeed these are engraved in a very superior style of sharpness. In Germany, zinc has of late been used instead of pewter: the punches make a clearer impression, and the plates allow of a larger number being printed without damage.

In estimating the relative merits of type and plate printing from a commercial point of view, it must be borne in mind that it is cheaper to engrave a pewter plate than to set up a page of