Musical transposition calculator, in circular slide-rule format

1820 in England
Wilson, J.

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Musical transposition calculator, brass, in circular slide-rule format. Front 3/4 view of whole object on dark grey
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Musical transposition calculator, in circular slide-rule format, by J. Wilson, England, 1820

The first is by J Wilson and is dated 1820. The second is not signed and dates from the mid 19th century. Because all the notes in a scale have a fixed frequency ratio, music can be ‘transposed’ up or down the various keys. These little devices are like circular adding machines; moving the tonic, or fundamental note, a certain number of tones up or down moves all the notes in the scale by the same interval, so music can be rewritten in a different key. The second calculator has the tonic at the top and reveals the notes in the appropriate major scale.


Object Number:
slide rule
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • calculator
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • calculator
Christie's South Kensington Limited

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