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Double spread of pages showing musical cylinder from MS of 'Elysium Britannicum'

Double spread of pages showing musical cylinder from MS of 'Elysium Britannicum'

Shelfmark: Add MS 78342

Item number: ff. 177v 178

Length: 310

Width: 385

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Manuscript

John Evelyn was one of the founder members of the Royal Society, established by royal charter in 1662 to stimulate scientific experiment and discussion.

This is his drawing in the ‘Elysium Britannicum’ of a ‘Hydraulic Automat or Autophone Organ’ from the Quirinal gardens in Rome. Italy was particularly famed for the hydraulic wonders of its gardens. Evelyn had seen water organs there and believed music to be an essential part of the ideal garden.

The organ is powered by a water wheel, which pushes air into the pipes and turns a drum set with pins that produce the melody by opening or blocking individual pipes. Evelyn shows how a tune can be transferred on to the revolving drum and observes that the music chosen should be grave and solemn.


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