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General Thompson’s Enharmonic Guitar

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“Nothing so utterly breaks me down, as lots of concerts. Even one is for the most part a burthen. The truth is, I have little or no music in me…”

How can someone with ‘little or no music’ in him, be worthy of an academic music paper? The answer is that the author of the quotation above, Thomas Perronet Thompson (1783–1869), worked in league with Louis Panormo, the leading guitar-maker of nineteenth-century London. Furthermore, Thompson’s resulting publication, Instructions to my Daughter, for playing on the Enharmonic Guitar although a disguise for what is actually a complex mathematical treatise, contains organological concepts, which may have had a long-term influence on the design of the guitar. There is a little bit for everyone: A Cambridge connection, history, political economics, mathematics, organology, and… a splattering of music to boot.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term series.

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