Music Printing – How it Began

Music Printing – How it Began

Printing music sheets on an 11×17 printer @ is easy and fun. But, have you ever pondered on how music sheets materialized? The arrival of printing was a huge development that headed to advancement in many various disciplines or branch of learning. Music, certainly, was no exemption. In the domain of music, printing had extensive effects that were remarkably constructive and some point could be thought to be more negative. Nonetheless, the positive outcomes far prevail over the undesirable in terms of long-term musical commodification, conservation of classics or masterworks, in addition to setting and synchronizing the appropriate gears in motion to lead the production of music in a more contemporary direction.

From the modest establishments of the printing press, initially crafted by Johannes Gutenburg Circa 1450, arrived a pioneer to the musical domain who devised the earliest method of producing printed music. Around 1501, Ottaviano Petrucci first took the fame printing music in Venice when he produced a print of his Odhecaton, the first compilation of polyphonic music with a movable type print.

Petrucci utilized a method termed triple impression printing. The process required running a single piece of music over the mechanism thrice: once for the musical staff lines, once for the musical notes, and once for the text. Although the process was lengthy and tasking, it produced printed music that was very pleasing to the eye. This give rise to circulation to more consumers from a broader span of economic backgrounds, aided in emboldening the progress of literacy in music, as well as composers acquiring a larger circle of influence. But, this certain process of printing was yet rather pricey not to mention time consuming. Music produced was still regarded as a luxury item even if more individuals had access to it. Unknown to Petrucci, there was another method for music printing that was taking place.

During the 1520s in France, Pierre Attaingnant started using a single method to print out music. This was termed single impression printing. Rather than necessitating the same piece of music to run through the mechanism thrice, all the components of one segment could be in print at once. The musical staff lines, the musical notes for the section, and any text would all be aligned and printed all at once. Since the staff lines were done in segments, the elements did not constantly and precisely align. The print then emerged to be far less pleasing to the eye compared to Petrucci’s technique. This was a major downside to Attaingnant’s method. Nevertheless, although the single impression printing was less visually attractive, it was much more cost efficient and time-saving. This made it much more accessible and available the common public than those of Petrucci’s printed music. Eventually, this was the technique that stood the test of time.

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