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date: 10 December 2019

Zimmermann, Charles [Carl] F(riedrich) locked

  • Michael I. Holmes

Extract

(b Morgenroethe, Saxony, Germany, Sept 4, 1817; d Philadelphia, PA, Oct 20, 1898). Instrument maker of German birth. He immigrated to the United States in 1864 and settled in Philadelphia. His work with and improvements to the accordion led him to devise a complex “tone numbering” system of musical notation that used numbers in place of notes; he wrote articles describing this as early as 1871. After years of revising the system he decided to invent a musical instrument that would require its use; he tried at first to adapt the accordion for this purpose but soon turned his attention to the autoharp, a zither with attached chord bars. He first alluded to his plans to manufacture the instrument around 1878 in his book Zimmermann’s Directory of Music in General; he applied for a patent in 1881 (issued the following year) and began production in 1885. Within three years he had sold 50,000 instruments. His models ranged from one with 21 strings and three bars that could produce only three chords to a concert instrument with 49 strings, six bars, slides, and levers that could produce 72 chords. In ...

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