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date: 28 February 2020


  • Albert Cohen


A kind of lute, perhaps one activated by a wheel, invented by the French polymath Jean Le Maire. The word ‘almérie’ is an anagram of the inventor’s name. Le Maire (b Chaumont-en-Bassigny, Haute-Marne, c1581; dc1650) was a mathematician, engineer, and inventor who lived in Toulouse and Paris. His widespread interests led to the development of novelties in such diverse areas as architecture, language, mnemotechnics, and typography. In music, in addition to the almérie, he is credited with devising an equal-tempered scale, with adding a seventh syllable (za) to the hexachordal solmization system, and with proposing a novel music notation (‘musique almérique’). Although Mersenne (Harmonie universelle, and in his correspondence) strongly supported Le Maire’s ideas, others did not, and controversy regarding his inventions spread throughout France and elsewhere in Europe.

See also Mersenne, Marin.

A. Cohen: ‘Jean Le Maire and La Musique Almérique’, AcM...

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Acta musicologica