Thomas Salmon (musicologist)

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Thomas Salmon (1648–1706) was an English cleric and writer on music.



He was the son of Thomas Salmon of Hackney. He entered Trinity College, Oxford, on 8 April 1664, and graduated B.A. 1667, and M.A. 1670. At the university he mainly studied mathematics; Matthew Locke says that Salmon applied to him for instruction in musical composition. Locke disclaimed competence, referring Salmon to the Compendium of Practical Musick by Christopher Simpson, and suggested John Birchensha as a teacher. [1]

Trinity College, Oxford college of the University of Oxford

Trinity College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. The college was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope, on land previously occupied by Durham College, home to Benedictine monks from Durham Cathedral.

Matthew Locke (composer) English Baroque composer

Matthew Locke was an English Baroque composer and music theorist.

Christopher Simpson Interprete de Viola da Gamba (1605 - 1669)

Christopher Simpson (1602/1606–1669) was an English musician and composer, particularly associated with music for the viola da gamba.

In 1673 Salmon obtained the living of Meppershall in Bedfordshire, He was also rector of the Church of St Katherine in Ickleford, Hertfordshire. [1]

Meppershall village and civil parish in Bedfordshire, UK

Meppershall is a hilltop village in Bedfordshire near Shefford, Campton, Shillington, Stondon and surrounded by farmland. The village and the manor house are mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 - with the entry reading: Malpertesselle/Maperteshale: Gilbert FitzSolomon.

Bedfordshire County of England

Bedfordshire is a county in the East of England. It is a ceremonial county and a historic county, covered by three unitary authorities: Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, and Luton.

Ickleford village and civil parish in North Hertfordshire, England

Ickleford is a large village situated on the northern outskirts of Hitchin in North Hertfordshire in England. It lies on the west bank of the River Hiz and to the east of the main A600 road. It was partly in Bedfordshire until the Bedfordshire portion of the civil parish was transferred to Hertfordshire by the Counties Act 1844.

Salmon gave, in July 1705, a lecture to the Royal Society on just intonation with illustrative performances by the brothers Frederick and Christian Steffkin, on viols, and Gasperini. On 4 December he wrote to Sir Hans Sloane concerning Greek enharmonic music. Further correspondence sought a patron for musical experimentation. [1] [2]

Royal Society National academy of science in the United Kingdom

The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national Academy of Sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement. It also performs these roles for the smaller countries of the Commonwealth.

Just intonation

In music, just intonation or pure intonation is the tuning of musical intervals as (small) whole number ratios of frequencies. Any interval tuned in this way is called a just interval. Just intervals and chords are aggregates of harmonic series partials and may be seen as sharing a (lower) implied fundamental. For example, a tone with a frequency of 300 Hz and another with a frequency of 200 Hz are both multiples of 100 Hz. Their interval is, therefore, an aggregate of the second and third partials of the harmonic series of an implied fundamental frequency 100 Hz.

Viol Bowed, fretted and stringed instrument

The viol, viola da gamba, or informally gamba, is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed instruments with hollow wooden bodies and pegboxes where the tension on the strings can be increased or decreased to adjust the pitch of each of the strings. Frets on the viol are usually made of gut, tied on the fingerboard around the instrument's neck, to enable the performer to stop the strings more cleanly. Frets improve consistency of intonation and lend the stopped notes a tone that better matches the open strings. Viols first appeared in Spain in the mid to late 15th century and were most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque (1600–1750) periods. Early ancestors include the Arabic rebab and the medieval European vielle, but later, more direct possible ancestors include the Venetian viole and the 15th- and 16th-century Spanish vihuela, a 6-course plucked instrument tuned like a lute that looked like but was quite distinct from the 4-course guitar.

Salmon died at Meppershall, and was buried in the church on 1 August 1706. [1]


Salmon in 1672 published an Essay to the Advancement of Musick proposing the disuse of the Guidonian hand and its nomenclature, and the substitution of the plain first seven letters of the alphabet. Salmon proposed the modern octave system, which William Bathe had already recommended. Salmon also added a proposal to give up the tablature then used for the lute, and in all music to substitute for the clefs the letters B, M, T (bass, mean, treble), each stave having G on the lowest line. [1]

Guidonian hand

In Medieval music, the Guidonian hand was a mnemonic device used to assist singers in learning to sight-sing. Some form of the device may have been used by Guido of Arezzo, a medieval music theorist who wrote a number of treatises, including one instructing singers in sightreading. The hand occurs in some manuscripts before Guido's time as a tool to find the semitone; it does not have the depicted form until the 12th century. Sigebertus Gemblacensis in c. 1105–10 did describe Guido using the joints of the hand to aid in teaching his hexachord. The Guidonian hand is closely linked with Guido's new ideas about how to learn music, including the use of hexachords, and the first known Western use of solfege.

William Bathe was a Jesuit priest, musicologist and writer, who was born in Dublin, Ireland.

Tablature form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering

Tablature is a form of musical notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.

There followed an acrimonous controversy. Salmon appealed to Locke and the lutenist Theodore Steffkins, for support; Locke answered by publishing Observations upon a late Essay, in which Salmon's proposals are attacked. Salmon retorted in a Vindication; with this was printed a tract by an unidentified "N. E.", dated from Norwich. Locke's answer, The Present Practice of Music Vindicated, supported by tracts by John Phillips and John Playford. The dismissive treatment of Salmon resorted to obscenity. Salmon in 1688 issued a work on temperament, entitled A Proposal to perform Music in Perfect and Mathematical Proportions, to which John Wallis contributed. [1]

John Phillips (1631–1706) was an English author, the brother of Edward Phillips, and a nephew of John Milton.

John Playford London bookseller and publisher

John Playford (1623–1686/7) was a London bookseller, publisher, minor composer, and member of the Stationers' Company, who published books on music theory, instruction books for several instruments, and psalters with tunes for singing in churches. He is perhaps best known today for his publication of The English Dancing Master in 1651.

In psychology, temperament broadly refers to consistent individual differences in behavior that are biologically based and are relatively independent of learning, system of values and attitudes. Some researchers point to association of temperament with formal dynamical features of behavior, such as energetic aspects, plasticity, sensitivity to specific reinforcers and emotionality. Temperament traits remain its distinct patterns in behavior throughout adulthood but they are most noticeable and most studied in children. Babies are typically described by temperament, but longitudinal research in the 1920s began to establish temperament as something which is stable across the lifespan.

Salmon's other publications were: [1]


Salmon married Katherine, daughter of John Bradshaw the regicide; Nathanael Salmon and Thomas Salmon were their sons. [1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Salmon, Thomas (1648-1706)"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 50. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. Boomgaarden, Donald R. "Salmon, Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/24557.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Salmon, Thomas (1648-1706)". Dictionary of National Biography . 50. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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