About Music Type

The Printing Press and Music Type

In 1450, Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press. As with previous methods of printing, it would soon be utilized to print music. With moveable type every note, line, beam, etc. had to be assembled into a “puzzle.” The correct notes, lines, and other music symbols were lined up in the correct order of the written music. The music had to be assembled correctly from left to right and in reverse. Errors had to be avoided as the workers would not get paid for corrections. From this point the types were locked together, placed on the printing press, inked, and pressed onto paper. Assembling the music was tedious and expensive, but the printing press made it possible to duplicate music at a faster pace. Copies of the music could now be sold and distributed to more people.

Printing press with workers
Working on the printing press before electricity. On the left the pressman is placing a sheet of paper on the tympan after which he will fold over the frisket to hold the paper in place. His assistant is inking the type. On the right another pressman is pulling the lever of the printing press down to force the form to press onto the paper. His assistant to the back is working on the ink.
Printing press in Poland
Printing press in Poland