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.
This is just great. Keep an eye on this page of the museum of music printing: http://musicprintinghistory.org/music-typewriters.html
There might be more about here eventually.