The Kromarographe

While searching through some early stationery trade magazines, I came across this interesting notice about a “music typewriter”:


Intrigued, I did some searching and found this in a 1907 edition of La Nature:


Apart from being interested simply in the mechanical nature of this machine, I was surprised to see what the output looks like:


The metric value of a note is indicated by the length of a horizontal line, and the register is indicated by that line’s placement within a vertical hierarchy of pitch. Remarkably, this is not unlike a modern-day MIDI “piano roll”:


It’s interesting how graphic representations of music with a linear axis of time read left to right and a vertical axis of pitch from high (top) to low (bottom), have persisted from the earliest attempts to notate music. I have no expertise in such machines and this is the first I’ve heard of the Kromarographe, but while player-piano rolls have similar features, this turn-of-the-century music “typewriter” seems to have been ahead of its time.

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1 Response to The Kromarographe

  1. Elaine says:

    This is just great. Keep an eye on this page of the museum of music printing:
    There might be more about here eventually.


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