Thursday, May 15, 2008

to enable us to keep time...

1879 music time keeping hand motions

1879 music time keeping hand motions

1879 music time keeping hand motions

1879 music time keeping hand motions

images from the 1879 book "favorite songs: a new collection of music for congregations, sunday schools, singing classes, and conventions" by h.r. christie. the book is mostly sunday school hymns, but the first 20 or so pages explain how to read and teach music. the old printing and disintegrating paper are beautiful.

the images above fall under the heading of "motions of the hand in beating time" along with the following text:

"to enable us to keep time accurately in singing, and to distribute it properly among the various notes in a piece of music, so that each note shall have its exact relative duration, it is customary to aid the mind in its rhythmic computations by certain motions of the hand, which are called beats, or beating time... this answers every purpose, and saves the learner a good deal of trouble."

in my own work, which is consistently mining translation system possibilities, i've been working with letters as numbers towards hand movements (with brush in hand) for a long time. three has, in numerous works, been moving the hand in a triangle form, but four has never been the up and back "L" shape as shown above. indeed this book is full of revelations...

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