Odious and Peculiar

Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.

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Forging the Sampo

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Friday, July 11, 2008
A Few Tidbits

Three things of fascination from Temperament by Stuart Isacoff:

The era opened with a new musical rage captivating the royal courts: Pantaleon Hebenstreit and his amazing giant hammered dulcimers. An itinerant musician and onetime dancing master, Hebenstreit's career had been going nowhere until he hit on the idea of building his nine-foot instruments with two hundred strings stretched over two sound boards, and of mastering a virtuoso technique for playing htem with two sticks. The effect had audiences spellbound.... When Hebestreit ended a long, contented life in 1750 at the court of Dresden, his salary was almost double that of Johann Sebastian Bach. His fame was so great that the early parlor piano became known as a "pantalon."
Someone really needs to revive those.


Diderot described Rameau in his wild romp of a novel, The Indiscreet Jewels (in which a magical ring compels the private parts of various women to reveal their secret histories).
Has this been translated? Odious? Feel like brushing up our French?


Technology and art continued to progress hand in hand. By the end of the eighteenth century, German scientist Johann Heinrich Lambert would propose an instrument by which people could enjoy music through their teeth, so as not to awake others who are sleeping.
Words fail.

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It has been translated at least once, to my knowledge, and even falls into the category of French That Translates Well (Descartes, Montaigne, bad Racine) rather than French That Suffers (Pascal, Baudelaire, good Racine). I read it some time ago but didn't make the Rameau connection; I'll see if I can't track it down and post that bit. I imagine he was the rather wacky composer Doremifasolatiutut, yes? I hope I've got that right but I'll check when I have a chance to hit the library which has a copy.
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