HAPPENED TODAY - On September 19, 1969, the composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was born in Reykjavík

Pierre-Simon Fournier and the round notes


Pierre-Simon Fournier (Paris, September 15, 1712 – Paris, October 8, 1768) was a French engraver, typographer and typefounder, famous for the decorative typographic ornaments that reflect the Rococo spirit of his time, collected in his beautiful volume Modélese des caracteres de l’Iprimerie, published in Paris in 1742.

Pierre-Simon Fournier signed his own work as Fournier le Jeune precisely to underline his belonged to a dynasty of font founders and printers. His adhesion to the period and the intellectual life of the Enlightenment led him to collaborate in the editions of the first newspapers but also to devote himself to the publication of theoretical writings and treatises on the art of printing. The Fournier family was in fact, together with that of the Didot, the most important family of printers-publishers of the eighteenth century. For the high quality of the paper, for the extreme accuracy in the revision of the texts, for the elegance of the characters, the editions produced by these families anticipate those of Giovanni Battista Bodoni, active in Parma towards the end of the century.

And it is precisely in his very famous Manuel typographique, utile aux gens de lettres & à ceux qui exercent les différentes parties de l’art de l’imprimerie, published in two volumes between 1764 and 1766, that Fournier presents a great novelty in the field of mobile printing. In its rich repertoire of printing characters, alongside the traditional square note models, it offers very elegant round notes. His examples of musical prints thus appear extremely harmonious and refined. The movable characters are juxtaposed in such a clever way as to make the eye hardly notice any break between one character and another, not even in the musical staff, but an unresolved readability problem remains: the vertical alignment of the notes respects the division in times of the musical beats. Perhaps because of the persistence of this unresolved problem, the chalcography system prevailed in the music press, but the beautiful forms of Fournier’s notes certainly won a place in history, as an unsurpassed model of elegance and harmony.

For those who want to deepen the topic, the two volumes of the Manuel typographique are available online: VOL.1 e VOL.2; of particular interest, are the models of the round notes (pp.172-175) in addition to the models of square notes on a black staff (pp.180-184) and on a red staff (pp.185-186).

For fans of characters and decorations, the beautiful volume Modélese des caracteres de l’imprimerie is also available online.