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The Melograph, similar to the Melodiograph, is a mechanical apparatus for ethnomusicological transcription usually producing some sort of graph that can be preserved and filed, similar to a recording of music. Beginning with attempts by Milton Metfessel in 1928, assorted devices such as this have been developed or manufactured, the most notable dating back to the 1950s and situated at the University of California in Los Angeles (Charles Seeger), the University of Oslo (Olav Gurvin and Karl Dahlback), and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Dalia Cohen and Ruth Katz).

Earlier use of the term[edit]

Melograph (aka pianograph, Eidomusikon, Phantasiermachine, notograph, Extemporising Machine) was a mechanical device that, when attached to a piano, notated on paper – in readable form – the exact, more or less, music played on the instrument. There were many attempts to invent, re-invent, and the improve the technology:[1]

  • 1745: Reverend J. Creed, an English clergyman ("Demonstration of the Possibility of making a machine that shall write Extempore Voluntaries or other Pieces of Music as fast as any master shall be able to play them upon an Organ, Harpsichord, etc.")[2]
  • 1752: Leonhard Euler (1707–1783), the mathematician; constructed in 1752 according to Euler's directions by Hohlfeld of Berlin ("Entwurf einer Maschine, wodurch alles, was auf dem Klavier gespielt wird, sich von selber in Noten setzt")
  • 1774: John Frederic Unger of Einbeck (he had an earlier design in 1752)
  • 1775: Marie Dominique Joseph Engramelle (fr) (1727–1805)
  • 1775: v. Elewyck
  • 1816: Careyre
  • 1816: John Charles Clifton (1781–1841) ("Eidomusicon" or "Eidomkusikon")'
  • 1824: Jean-Henri Pape (1789–1875) of Paris
  • 1835: François Antoine Edouard Keller (1803–1874), the son of Georges-Joseph Keller (fr)
  • 1836: M. Eisenmenger of Paris
  • 1844: Quérin
  • 1855: Juan Nepomuceno Adorno (1807–1880) of Mexico
  • Witzels
  • Schmeil, a teacher from Magdeburg ("Notograph")

Electric melographs

None were particularly successful.

Further reading[edit]

  • Randel, Don Michael. (2003). Harvard Dictionary of Music. Chicago: Belknap Harvard. ISBN 0-674-01163-5.