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John Curwen - Heckmondwyke, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dtrebilc
N 53° 42.480 W 001° 40.607
30U E 587340 N 5951848
Quick Description: This small memorial stone and bronze plaque is dedicated to John Curwen who was born in the town and founded the Tonic sol-fa system of music education with the help of Sarah Ann Glover.
Location: Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 12/2/2015 6:41:50 AM
Waymark Code: WMQ1WK
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Dunbar Loop
Views: 0

Long Description:
"Curwen was born 14 November 1816, at Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, the son of Spedding Curwen and Mary Jubb. His father was a Non-conformist minister, as John was also from 1838 until 1864. Curwen gave up full-time ministry to devote himself to his new method of musical nomenclature.

Curwen's system was designed to aid in sight reading of the stave with its lines and spaces. He adapted it from a number of earlier musical systems, including the Norwich Sol-fa method of Sarah Ann Glover (1785–1867) of Norwich. Her Sol-fa system was based on the ancient gamut; but she omitted the constant recital of the alphabetical names of each note and the arbitrary syllable indicating key relationship, and also the recital of two or more such syllables when the same note was common to as many keys (e.g. C, Fa, Ut, meaning that C is the subdominant of G and the tonic of C). The notes were represented by the initials of the seven syllables, still in use in Italy and France as their names. Curwen taught himself to sight-read based on Glover's Norwich Sol-fa, made alterations and improvements, and named his method Tonic Sol-fa. In the Tonic Sol-fa the seven letters refer to key relationship (relative pitch) and not to absolute pitch. Curwen utilised the first letter (lower case) of each of the solmisation tones (do, re, me, fa, sol, la, ti), and a rhythmic system that used bar lines (prefixing strong beats), half bar lines (prefixing medium beats), and semicolons (prefixing weak beats) in each measure.

Curwen technically did not invent Tonic Sol-fa. Rather he developed a distinct method of applying it in music education, including both rhythm and pitch. The name and current form can be traced to Curwen." link

He also published a number of books outlining his methods.

The memorial is in Green Park in the centre of Heckmondwike in front of grassy area near to a bandstand and has the following text.

JOHN CURWEN
1816 - 1880
THE ORIGINATOR OF TONIC SOL-FA WHO BROUGHT
MUSIC TO PEOPLE OF MANY LANDS WAS BORN ON
14 NOV 1816 IN THE MANSE FORMERLY STANDING
NEAR THIS SPOT. THIS PLAQUE WAS ERECTED BY
THE JOHN CURWEN SOCIETY TO COMMEMORATE HIS
LIFE'S WORK AMONG ADULTS & CHILDREN TOWARDS
ESTABLISHING A NATIONAL CHORAL TRADITION
THIS TABLET WAS UNVEILED BY
COUNCILLOR C C WALKER J P 1ST JULY 1988
Website with more information on either the memorial or the person(s) it is dedicated to: [Web Link]

Location: Green Park

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