Illustration of Metronome

1814-1815 Metronome

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel, Johann Nepomuk Maelzel horology Illustration of Metronome


Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel invented the metronome, weighting a pendulum on both sides of the pivot. The next year, Johann Maelzel added a scale and patented it. In 1817, Ludwig van Beethoven, a friend of Maelzel, added metronome markings to one of his compositions.

Poème symphonique

György Ligeti, influenced by the Fluxus movement, composed his Poème symphonique, for one hundred metronomes. The metronomes are wound up tightly, set to different tempos, and started together by ten performers who then leave the stage.


I’d play tennis without a net, and without an opponent. How would this be ”tennis”? I would count syllables. My serve would take six syllables. My return would take eight. Underlying rhythms would help serve my reader though fighting a built-in delay.

Poème symphonique makes no statement about the clockwork universe or the universality of entropy. It’s fun to listen to today because of the complex rhythms that a simultaneous multiplicity of different intervals may create.

See also in The book of science:

Readings in wikipedia: