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CLEMENTI Muzio
in London

1811

Patent of 1811 : "William Frederick COLLARD, Tottenham Courtrond, Middlesex, musical instrument-maker; for improvements upon an upright piano-forte. - Sepember 9." Philosophical Magazine, Volume 38, Alexander Tilloch, 1811, p. 316


1818

Patent of 1818 : "William Frederick COLLARD, of Tottenham Court Road, for certain improvements on musical instruments, called piano fortes. — March 8th." The London Magazine, Volume 3, 1821, p. 697 - or - "The bridge of reverberation " is a third bridge below the two others to allow that part of the strings which is generally listed, or damped, to sympathise and vibrate in unison with the lengths between the ordinary bridges." The History of the Pianoforte, Edgar Brinsmead, 1879, p. 202 (archive.org) - or -

"MR. COLLARD'S PATENT. - A Patent (for the United Kingdom) for Improvements on Piano Fortes has been recently obtained by Mr. W. F. Collaro, of the House of Clementi, Collaro, and Co. London.

From the long and deep attention there has been bestowed on the structure of Piano Fortes, and the eminent success with which every hint for their improvement has been pursued, we were not prepared to expect any invention that might add to the general powers of the instrument, although among the prodigious assistances mechanics are able to lend to art, we should not have doubted that there might be yet some particular parts susceptible of a superior construction.

The object of Ma. COLLARD's invention is however general, and it imparts not only a new and richer degree of tone, but it submits a choice of fresh varieties and degrees to the player, which can hardly fail to call forth novel and beautiful effects in performance.

Freedom of vibration, power, richness and equality of tone, being the great and essential qualities to be desired in Piano Fortes, the attention of the Patentee appears to have been directed generally to the discovery of some principle by which these requisites could be obtained in a higher degree than by the plan hitherto employed in their construction.

The mechanism used having been already brought to a very high degree of excellence, it seemed manifest that if the qualities sought after could at all be produced to the extent desired, they must either result from a new construction of the soundboard, or from the mode of applying the strings, or from both means combined.

Ma. COLLARD,from the conversation we had the pleasure to hold with him upon the subject of his invention, appears to hare been led by various inductions and analogous reasonings to the discovery of the plan for which he has procured his patents, and by which he not only seems to have obtained the means of effecting that power, free* dom, and length of vibration, so much the object of his search, bat also of adding another improvement whereby the player is enabled to give a more extensive variety to his performance, and great power and richness of effect.

The mechanism of each description of Piano Fortes now commonly in use he leaves nearly in the same state as thai employed by the most eminent manufacturers, so that the performer has no new difficulties whatever to encounter from the application of Mr. COLLARD's inventions.

The case - or frame-work of grand piano fortes he constructs on a simple principle, of so great strength as to enable them to resist the effects of climate and a far greater power than the combined pull of the strings produce.

The improvement that is the basis on which the other is founded, is an additional bridge on the sound-board, not for the purpose of regulating musical intervals, but of augmenting the duration of the vibration, and consequently increasing and beautifying the tone. This bridge, which he calls "the bridge of reverberation," is placed at a regulated distance on the sound-board; and the important advantage resulting from it is, that the motion given to the principal part of the string by the impulse of the hammer is kept up by the bridge of reverberation, instead of being suddenly checked by an attachment to an unyielding substance.

The prolonged vibration produces an extraordinary purity, power, and continuity of sound somewhat resembling the richness of an octave below.

From this essential improvement the Patentee's second invention is derived, which is as follows:

On the old plan of passing the strings directly from the side of the case to the original bridge on the sound-board, it became necessary, in order to prevent the jarring noise of those portions of the wire which lie between them, not only to place some soft substance on the top of the moulding, but also to weave a piece of cloth between the strings.

The second improvement, which the patentee calls the Harmonic swell, substitutes a novel action for those portions of the string which lie between the two bridges, yielding most sweet and melodious tones.

The performer, by lifting a valve, is enabled to elicit those harmonious sounds through a well-known sympathetic relation between accordant strings, without touching those portions of the strings which produce them.

The augmentation of sound caused by this means resembles in some measure the effect of lifting the dampers, but without producing the same confusion, since every note on the body of the instrument is regularly damped as the performer lifts his finger.

By this apparatus a threefold power of augmenting the sound is acquired; whereas instruments of the common construction have but the one caused by lifting the dampers.

The first augmentation of power is by lifting the harmonic swell.

The second — by dropping the harmonic swell and raising the dampers.

The third — by raising the harmonic swell and the dampers together. By the last means the performer adds all the tones which are sympathetically elicited from the strings between the original bridge and bridge of reverberation, over and above all that can be produced on instruments of the common construction, and the effect is accordingly of extraordinary richness and power.

These inventions are alike applicable to upright, cabinet, and square piano fortes; the latter of which acquire by this new mode of construction much of the richness and depth of tone peculiar to grand instruments.

The improvements, as simple in themselves as their effects are striking, enable the player greatly to extend the variety of his performance, and are acknowledged by the first professional judges to have given a new character to the instrument of the most effective kind.

That which we heard appeared to us to produce the kind of prolonged tone which arises in a room of fine resonance, and the power was certainly vastly augmented. Upon the whole, the inventor seems to have accomplished far more than could have been expected after the very high state of improvement the piano forte had already attained." The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review vol. III, 1821, p. 318-320 - or - Atheneum, Or, Spirit of the English Magazines, Volume 10, 1821, p. 284-285


1821

"NEW PATENTS AND MECHANICAL INVENTIONS. - To W. F. COLLARD, of the Firm, CLEMENTI, COLLARD, and Co.

Patent Piano Forte makers to the King, of Cheapside, London; for New Patent Grand and Square Piano Fortes, with Harmonic Swell and Bridge of Reverberation. T the suggestion of certain eminent musicians, a celebrated mathematician some years since directed his attention to enriching the tone of piano fortes by the aid of harmonics; but his designs were never carried into effect. Clementi and Co., by their present patent invention, obtain this desirable improvement, at the addition of a comparatively trifling cost.

By the “ BRIDGES of REVERBERATION,” the strings have the effect of being fixed, like those of the harp, to the sound-board itsel, finstead of being checked by an immediate attachment to a solid substance.

This contrivance not only produces a more equal and rich flow of vibration, but takes away the whistling of the large steel strings, so common and often so disagreeable in grand piano fortes on the usual construction. It also gives the great advantage of turning all those portions of the strings beyond the original bridge, which were before useless, to the augmentation and perfection of the tone produced on the main body of the instrument, by means of the “HARMONIC SWELL.” -

In expressive movements and legato assages the addition of the harmonics, independent of the beauty of sound, procures an advantage which must be - obviota' obvious to every one, since it effects that continuity of vibration which, somewhat like the bow of a violin, makes one note glide into another; and as this effect is produced without at all interfering with the dampers, the bass may be played staccato whilst the treble is played legato, and vice versa.

The whole volume of tone called forth by the harmonic swell and dampers pedal combined, is at extraordinary richness and powery and in passages requiring bold contrast, dramatic energy, or sustained grandeur, will be found of singular efficacy.

The great improvement given by this new construction also to the ertra additional keys in the treble, must be considered very important, since all the great continental composers and performers now employ them so frequently in passages of brilliant effect; and since they are found so highly useful not only for duets by two persons on the same instrument, but for giving the master an opportunity of marking the character of passages above, whilst the scholar is practising them in the octave below.

The additional pedal for fixing the keys on two strings is found very convenient, as it leaves the feet to be employed on the harmonic swell and damper pedal during a delicate strain, or for the purpose of accompagment.

The simple principle on which the improved grand piano forte cases are eonstructed is of such efficacy as to resist an immensely greater force than the most extensive compass of string can possibly produce. The advantage of this, in keeping the instrument in tune and counteracting the effects of climate, are sufficiently obvious.

From the long and deep attention bestowed on the structure of piano fortes, and the eminent success with which every hint for their improvement has been pursued, we were not prepared to expect any invention that might add to the general powers of the instrument, although among the prodigious assistance mechanics are able to lend to art, we should not have doubted that there might be yet some particular parts susceptible of a superior construction.

The object of Mr. COLLARD’s invention is however general, and it imparts not only a new and richer degree of tone, but it submits a choice of fresh varieties and degrees to the player, which can hardly sail to call forth novel and beautiful effects in performance.

Freedom of vibration, power, richness and equality of tone, being the great and essential qualities to be desired in piano fortes, the attention of the patentee appears to have been directed generally to the discovery of some principle by which these requisites could be obtained in a higher degree than by the plan hitherto joi in their construction. The mechanism used having been already brought to a very high degree of excellence, it seemed manifest that if the qualities sought after could at all be produced to the extent desired, they must either result from a new construction of the soundboard, or from the mode of applying the strings, or from both means combined.

The mechanism of each description of piano fortes now commonly in use he leaves nearly in the same state as that employed by the most eminent manufacturers, so that the performer has no new difficulties whatever to encounter from the application of Mr. COLLARD's inventions.

The cases or frame-work of grand piano fortes he constructs on a simple principle, of so great strength as to enable them to resist the effects of climate, and a far greater power than the roduce. asis on combined pull of the strings.

The improvement, that is the which the other is founded, is an additional bridge on the sound-board, not for the purpose of regulating musical intervals, but of augmenting the duration of the vibration, and consequently increasing and beautifying the tone.

This bridge, which he calls ‘the bridge of reverberation, is placed at a regulated distance on the sound-board ; and the important advantage resulting from it is, that the motion given to the principal part of the string by the impulse of the hammer, is kept up by the bridge of reverberation, being so denly checked by an attachment to an unyielding substance.

The prolonged vibration produces an extraordina purity, power, and continuity of sound somewhat resembling the richness of an octave below.

From this essential improvement the patentee’s second invention is derived, which is as follows :

– On the old plan of passing the strings directly from the side of the case to the original bridge on the sound-board, it became necessary, in order to prevent the jarring noise of those portions of the wire which lie between them, not only to place some soft substance on the the top of the moulding, but also to weave a piece of cloth between the strings.

The second improvement, which the patentee calls the harmonic swell, substitutes a novel action for those portions of the string which lie between the two bridges, yielding most sweet and melodious tones. The performer, by lifting a valve, is enabled to elicit those harmonious sounds through a wellknown symphathetic relation between accordant strings, without touchi those portions of the strings ...; produce them.

The augmentation of sound caused by this means, resembles in some measure the effect of lifting the dampers, but without producing the same confusion, since every note on the body of the instrument is regularly damped as the performer lifts his finger.

By this apparatus a threefold power of augmenting the sound is acquired; whereas instruments of the common construction have but the one caused by lifting the dampers. The first augmentation of power is by lifting the harmonic swell.

The second—by dropping the harmonic swell and raising the dampers. The third—by raising the harmonic swell and the dampers together. By the last means the performer adds all the tones which are sympathetically elicited from the strings between the original bridge and bridge of reverberation, over and above all that can be produced on instruments of the common construction, and the effect is accordingly of extraordinary richness and power.

These inventions are alike applicable to upright, cabinet, and square pianofortes; the latter of which acquire by this new mode of construction, much of the richness and depth of tone peculiar to grand instruments.

The improvements, as simple in themselves as their effects are striking, enable the player greatly to extend the variety of his performance, and are acknowledged by the first professional judges to have given a new character to the instrument of the most effective kind. That which we heard appeared to us to produce the kind of prolonged tone which arises in a room of fine resonance, and the power was certainly vastly augmented.

Upon the whole, the inventor seems to have accomplished far more than could have been expected, after the very high state of improvement, the piano-forte had already attained." The Monthly Magazine, 01/11/1821, p. 342


1825

Self-Acting Pianoforte : "In some of Clementi's self-acting piano-fortes the mechanical powers of the instrument extend to eighteen tunes. There is generally a set of keys, as in a common piano; so that the instrument can also be played in the usual way by the fingers." Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, 16/02/1839 p. 64

"SELF-ACTING PIANO-FORTE. - When the self-acting organs were invented, the musical public gave great credit to the contrivance, and afterwards took honorable notice of the improvements devised by the ingenious and persevering firm of Clementi, COLLARD, and Company.

But the attention which their creative labours, as displayed in various instrumental constructions, drew to their manufactory, has been greatly increased by their very novel invention of a self-acting piano-forte.

This curious instrument, furnished with a horizontal cylinder, similar to that of a barrel-organ, and put into motion by a steel-spring, performs without external force or manual operation, the most intricate and difiicult compositions; and, by comprising in its mechanism two complete instruments, each independent of the other, it admits, while the operation of the self-actuated intrument is proceeding within, of a distinct accompaniment on the keys without, which occupy the usual place in front, and may be played on at pleasure, with or without the self-acting part of the machine.

This first instrument of its kind, when the spring is fully wound up, will act for more than half an hour, and may he again prepared for performance in half a minute; and, if required, stopped in an instant, while in full action.

The time in which it executes any movement, may be accelerated or retarded, at pleasure: and while, by the delicacy and perfection of the mechanism, the piano and the forte passages are given with correctness and effect, the fortzandi and diminuandi are produced, by the slightest motion of the hand applied to a sliding ball at the side of the instrument. When we consider the state of the piano-forte as originally constructed, — its thin, wiry, jangling tone, inaffective weakness, and other numerous imperfections, and witness the complicated beauties and powers of this self-acting instrument, we must be both delighted and surprised, — and almost be persuaded, that to ingenuity, science, and industry, no excellence in musical mechanism is unattainable." Concert room and orchestra anecdotes of music and musicians: ancient and modern, 1825, p. 95-97


 

1827

New Patent for improvements in the Piano Forte granted to Messrs. Clementi and Co. London.

"Perhaps nothing has been more desired or more sought than an instrument which may possess the attributes of a tone sufficiently powerful to produce the effects contemplated by the best composers for the piano forte, and that fullness in the accompaniment of the voice which is necessary to support the singer and to gratify the hearer. The tone of the common square piano forte is too meagre.

The grand piano forte was too sonorous as an instrument and too large as a piece of furniture for rooms of moderate size — a second inducement to new experiments arose out of this circumstance.

The cabinet instruments were contrived to occupy little space yet to increase the volume, but whatever was gained in tone was lost in the impediments occasioned by the upright projection in the face of the performer.

In the prosecution of their general improvements, Messrs. Clementi appear to have adopted a plan, which while it obviates the objections to the grand piano forte and the cabinet, combines so large a portion of the advantages of the former with the compactness of the square instruments, that it should seem the so long desired mean is at length attained.

It will be understood that the objections we have stated to that noble invention, the grand piano forte, are not applicable to the instrument in itself—but they are felt where space or where expence are objects to the purchasers.

The patent obtained by Messrs. Clementi and Co. is for improvements in several parts, indeed nearly all the parts of the construction. In order therefore that they may be clearly apprehended we shall reduce them to the several heads.

The soundboard is continued over the whole internal surface of the instrument, by which a greater volume of tone is obtained.

Dampers. — Instead of passing down the damper wire next to the string intended to be damped, as is generally done, it is passed down next to the strings which produce a whole tone higher.

— The damper head is elongated so as to pass over the intermediate strings, and rest on the note with which it is connected. 'By this improvement two important advantages are gained

— the first, that of avoiding the jingling of the strings against the damper wire which is very common in instruments on the old plan, where the damper wire and string contiguous are both in motion at the same time.

The second, and of still greater importance, is that the damper wire being thus thrown further back from the head of the hammer, ample room is obtained for the introduction of the grand piano forte check, or that part of the mechanism which arrests the hammer in its descent, and prevents it from returning against the strings until the key has been again pressed down.

Thus the disagreeable effect of the reverberation of the hammer, common to all square piano fortes of the usual construction, is avoided, and greater power and firmness given to the touch.

Raising the Dampers.

— By the usual mode of doing this the touch is rendered different by the whole weight of the dampers. By the improved method exactly the same touch is preserved whether the dampers are all raised or continue to act with the keys with which they are connected.

Stringing. — By the improved method all necessity of making nooses is avoided, and the bad consequences resulting from an eye too loosely or too lightly twisted are obviated. The mode of applying the string is simply by passing it from the two tuning pins round one hitch pin, which latter is more than double the size of those generally used.

The simplicity of this mode is such that the most unpractised hand can put on a string with the utmost facility; the string is much less liable to break, and is brought up to pitch in half the time of those pitched on by a noose.

Such are the several improvements.

The volume of tone is increased, the articulation of the notes rendered more firm and decisive, and the touch made equal to that of a grand piano. The case is constructed on a remarkably strong principle, and this, in conjunction with the new mode of stringing, causes the instrument to continue longer in tune, and renders it less liable to the fracture of strings.

Part of the principles of the patent being applicable to grand piano fortes C. and Co. have employed them in the construction of that instrument with equal success." The Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, 1827, p 492-493


 

1828

ON A NEW CONSTRUCTION OF PIANO-FORTES.

"The Parisians have laid claim to great improvements in piano-fortes by the application of iron in the structure of the case ; but that improvement, as far as its utility goes, has long been in use in England.

The plan of employing one large string to each note of the piano-forte, upon which the Parisians also dilate largely, is another invention, if it may be so called, likewise derived from this country.

Lord Stanhope was amongst the first who made this attempt, but the false and crazy tone rendered by the treble strings, particularly when so enlarged as to produce the quantity of tone required, was an insurmountable obstacle to its success.

This is precisely the case with respect to the French instruments; and those made in this country with strings of less diameter, although not so loud, are of very superior purity.

In the French square piano, in order to apply the mechanism used in grand pianos, the manufacturers are obliged to place the hammers diagonally to the direction of the key, and this sidelong motion is a great defect.

We are induced to make these preliminary remark^ before we enter into a detail of the improvements latelj made by Messrs. Clementi and Co. on square piano-fortes! for which they have secured a patent, and some of th* principles of which they are now applying with success t^ grand and cabinet piano-fortes.

The case of the square piano-forte is somewhat larger than those usually made, and varied from their usual form, not from necessity, but to improve the elegance of its appearance.

The sound-board is prolonged over the whole internal surface of the instrument, in order to increase and enrich the tone.

One important improvement is effected in the mode of applying the damper, the wire of which does not pass down immediately next the strings it is intended to damp, but is placed beyond the two succeeding semitones higher up the instrument, and the damper head is made longer, so as to reach over to the note to which it is applied.

By this important change, sufficient space is 32 left between the hammer head and the damper wire to introduce the grand piano-forte check, to arrest the hammer in its descent, and prevent its reverberation against the strings.

The next improvement is in the mode of applying the damper lifter, which is so contrived as to leave the damper levers always upon the extremities of the keys.

By this means the touch always remains precisely of the same weight, whether the dampers are taken offor remain in use.

A third improvement is in the mode of applying the string, so as to avoid the noose by which they are ordinarily attached. This is effected by using only one hitch pin (of double the usual size), instead of two, and passing the string from one tuning pin to the other round this single hitch pin, in one continuous piece of wire.

The object of this is to prevent the distortion of the fibres of the wire by twisting, which often makes them false, to obviate the giving of the wire at the noose, and to avoid the frequent snapping of the string at the twist. Notwithstanding that both unisons are made by one continuous wire, yet such is the tenacity caused by the friction on the single hitch pin, that one of the unisons may be lowered several semitones without in the least affecting the pitch of the other. So great is the advantage gained by this mode of applying the strings, that a string is seldom or never known to break; it is brought up to its pitch almost instantaneously, and a person who has never before put a string on a piano-forte may do it without the smallest difficulty.

The whole mechanism of the instrument is comprised in one frame instead of two, and is withdrawn altogether like that of a grand piano-forte.

Having thus detailed the nature of the mechanical apparatus, we shall now speak of the qualifications of the whole as an instrument. The tone is rich, and of a volume approximating to that of a grand piano-forte. The vibration is prolonged and pure, and highly calculated for expressive as well as brilliant playing.

The touch is in every respect equal to that of a grand piano-forte, and it is from these two qualities of tone and touch, that, we apprehend, the proprietor of this invention has styled the instrument "grand square piano-forte."

It is an instrument well calculated to attract the attention of those who are unwilling to be at the expense of a grand piano-forte, or whose rooms would be too much incumbered by its size, for no professor would hesitate to perforin a composition requiring great power of instrument on such a one as we have described, the tone and touch of which cannot fail to satisfy any performer.

The same makers have manufactured a few of these instruments of larger dimensions, by which a greatly increased volume of tone has been obtained; and having also applied metal centres to the hammers, they still more approach the perfection of the grand pianoforte." The Harmonicon, 1828, p. 31

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