Gesa zur Nieden

The German Reception of Rameau’s Theoretical Works. Language Frontiers, Material Aspects of Distribution and Ways of Reading

This contribution seeks to illustrate the cultural context and that of distribution and translation concerning the reception of Jean-Philippe Rameau in the 18th century German speaking world in the focus of linguistic dimensions and the technical premises of the tradition of his work. Rameau’s expression has often been labeled “blurry”, thus for one part, the consequences on its comprehension beyond early modern age language frontiers will be clarified. This will be executed on a depiction of Rameau’s own linguistic expression between the different early modern age idioms (Avignon, Lyon, Clermont, Paris, Italy) with whom the author was confronted. Consequently, a regard of the overall and particular language skills of scholars and musicians shall reveal the potential for understanding and misunderstanding (République des Lettres, multilingual publications, composition of libraries). For the other part, the materiality of distribution between printing, manual copying and librarianship will be considered, especially in its deviation from French practices of reading and studying. Herein, the type face of French treatises in contrast to German publications of music theory will be of special interest. Finally, the conditions but also the empowering potential of the German Rameau reception concerning the transfer of content or even misunderstandings of his work are to be highlighted. In this respect, this contribution is intended as a materiality based study of systematic, historical linguistics on the music theory transfer connected to Rameau.