[AMERICAN MUSIC]. WALTER, Thomas (1696-1725). [The Grounds and Rules of Music Explained, or, An Introduction to the Art of Singing by Note. Fitted to the meanest capacities. Boston: Printed for S. Gerrish, 1746].
Oblong 24o (3 7/8 x 5 7/8 in.) Woodcut music notation, 25pp. engraved music printed on facing rectos and versos; manuscript additions paginated "17-90" containing 70 hymn tunes in three different early hands (see below). (Lacks AI [title], A2 and A3 with small marginal tears, minor foxing, fore-margins of a few pages just slightly shaved, without serious loss.) Eighteenth-century dark red calf gilt, upper cover with double gilt-ruled border, upper cover gilt-lettered "ALEX CHAMBERLAIN," small gilt-tooled fleurons at corners, spine gilt in four compartments, silver clasps and catches (clasp lacking, leather rubbed at extremities). Provenance: "James Foster" (early signature on front paste-down).
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT MUSIC INSTRUCTION BOOKS PRODUCED IN COLONIAL AMERICA, here in its fourth edition. Walter's manual, first printed by William Franklin in 1721, enjoyed 5 subsequent editions up to 1756. The "Recommendatory Preface" (pp.[i-iii]) is signed in type by Increase and Cotton Mather and 13 other clergymen, dated "Boston, 18 April 1721," and praises Walter's efforts to "encourage all...to Sing the Songes of the Lord, according to the good rules of Psalmody." The ministers desire that such spiritual music may "be the more introduced into private families." Walter's "Some Brief and Very Plain Instructions for Signing by Note" (pp. 1-25) is prefaced by a page showing the elements of musical notation (note shapes, clefs, bars, slurs, sharps, flats, and time signatures). Walter explains that learning to read the standard notation enables one to "be able to sing all the tunes in the World without hearing them sung by another"; he deplores the poor state of music "in our Churches," where the music is "now miserably tortured, and twisted, and quavered...into a horrid Medly." His manual is followed by engraved scales headed "Rules for Tuning the Voice" (pl.1) and engraved music for 23 psalms and tunes, mostly for three voices (Cantus, medius, bass). Evans 5878.
Manuscript music, 70 songs and hymns notated in three distinct American hands, n.d. 98pp. music (on 72 leaves), bound in after Walter's treatise, paginated 17-90 (a few leaves detached, one with a portion torn away). AN EXTENSIVE AND EARLY COLLECTION OF AMERICAN HYMN TUNES. The highly interesting additions comprise hymn setting for 1-4 voices, all with text underlay some with additional verses. According to Dr. Steven Marini of Wellesly College, who has studied the volume, all were previously published. Three separate hands are distinguishable; one of a strongly calligraphic nature, with decorative titling, flourishes, and touches of red ink. The volume was apparently in use over a good half-century, with the successive additions mirroring changes in musical taste in New England churches during this period. (A list of the hymns and Dr. Marini's preliminary study is available on request; we gratefully acknowledge his generous assistance).