(from Gk. metron: ‘a measure’ and nomos: ‘law’; Fr. métronome; Ger. Metronom, Taktmesser; It. metronomo)
An apparatus for establishing musical tempo. More specifically, it is the clockwork-driven double-pendulum device perhaps invented about 1812 by Diederich Nikolaus Winkel but refined and patented by Johann Nepomuk Maelzel in 1815. The name seems to have entered the English and French languages specifically on Maelzel’s patents filed in London and Paris; and there is no apparent evidence of its earlier use in any European language.
Traditionally the metronome has had two main purposes, which should be considered quite separately.
Nearly all the main developments have been driven by the need for composers and editors to fix the tempo they considered appropriate for a particular work (but see Tempo and expression marks, §4). This began to seem necessary for the first time in the late 17th century, when the music of different nationalities evolved markedly different styles and performance conventions but was internationally available. Thus Etienne Loulié (1696...