Many of the Renaissance printers who played an important role in the advance of printing were also accomplished musicians, composers and arrangers, and used the new printing process developed by Gutenberg and others to publish and distribute music. This was the first stages of music being made widely available to the public.

The spread of instrumental and vocal music during the Renaissance was in large part due to a number of enterprising music printers, many of whom were active musicians and composers and played a direct role in arranging the pieces which they published. The most prominent among them were the Italian Ottaviano Petrucci of Venice, the Parisian Pierre Attaingnant, the Flemish Teilman Susato and later the Venetian Antonio Gardano whose sons later went on to form one of most important music publishing firms of the era.

Petrucci is said to be the printer who produced the first collection of music using the new Gutenberg moveable type process. He worked with a process known as "multiple-impression printing" - one press run for the lines, another for the notes. This was able to produce excellent quality and results, but was time consuming. Attaingnant was responsible for the development and spread of "single-impression music printing" - printing music from type at one impression - staves, notes and text together rather than separately, as was previously the case. This process cut time and costs considerably, and enabled Attaingnant, and eventually all others, to produce a wide range of music. This was the beginning of modern music publishing and printing.

During the early developments of printing, a large amount of excellent music was created and printed. On this page, we will present some of this music. As both printers and musicians, this page is a special project. We hope you enjoy it.

Now available - 2 MP3 collections of instrumental versions of many of the pieces of the early music printers. See below....


Pierre Attaignant (b. c. 1494, Douai?, France d. 1551/52, Paris) was the son-in-law and heir of the printer-engraver Philippe Pigouchet (fl. 1490-1514). Beginning with a collection of chansons dated April 4, 1527, he used movable type and a single impression, a method that was probably his invention (earlier printers printed the staff and the notes in separate impressions.)

Before 1527 Attaignant began using a newly invented moveable music type, in which a fragment of a musical staff was combined with a note on each piece of type. He used the new type in a book of chansons, Chansons Nouvelles (1528). Because Attaignant's single-impression method halved the time and labor formerly needed to print music, it was quickly adopted throughout Europe. Attaignant was the first to use the printing press to achieve mass production in music publishing. In 1537 he became music printer and bookseller to the French king Francis I. His printing represents more than 150 outstanding composers of his day and include chansons, dance collections, masses, motets, psalms, and Passions. His 111 surviving publications are rich in information about early 16th-century music.

© 1999-2000 and Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.


Jacques Moderne (? - ca. 1561born in Slovenia) was a music publisher in France, who was very active in Lyons starting in 1523. His press issued publications of many kinds but concentrated mostly on music starting in 1532. For years he and Pierre Attaingnant, whose first book came out in 1528, were the only music publishers active in France. Moderne concentrated on newly composed music and thus produced the first (and in many instances only) prints of the approximately 800 pieces he published. He published works not only by the local circle of composers but also by the Parisians and major figures like Gombert, Morales and other papal musicians. His largest series was Le paragon des chansons (eleven volumes, 1538-43), his most famous together with Motteti del fiori (four volumes). His publication Musique de Joye was a collection of ricercars and dance music. He also published books of motets, chansons, Masses, noëls, and instrumental music also came from his press.


Matheo Pagano (Matthaeus Paganus or Matio Pagan) was an important publisher in Venice. He was a skilled wood engraver as well as a publisher and printer. His dated works go back to 1538 and end in 1562, when he published, to accompany Gastaldi's map of the world, the text "La Universale descrittione del Mondo, descritta da Giacomo de' Gastaldi Piamontese. Con gratia et privilegio In Venetia, per Matthio Pagano in Frezzaria al segno della Fede. M.D. LXII."

Pagano published and printed the following "Broadside". As well as the graphics and woodcuts, there is a song in mensural notation with a 2 part lute accompaniment in tablature. The text above the lute gives instructions concerning the tuning of the lute. The text below the instrument provides details about the tablature

William Byrd obtained with Thomas Tallis, January 1575, a patent from Queen Elizabeth for "importation of music from foreign sources," and printing and selling music and music paper for twenty-one years. They imported a fount of type from Johann Petreius of nuemberg and employed Thomas Vautrollier, Blackfriars, london, to print for them Cantiones, quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur.....1575. The type then remained unused until after the death of Vautrollier in 1587, when it passed into the possession of Thomas East (Este), some of whose imprints describe him as the assigne of William Byrd. East went on to become Renaissance England's most productive music printer. Tallis died in November 1585, after which Byrd held the patent alone until its expiration.



Teilman Susato, c. 1515-67, began his recorded career as a performer in the civic ensemble of Antwerp in 1530. Evidently of German origin, he chose to spend his most productive years in Antwerp, which in the first half of the sixteenth century was the dominant commercial center in northern Europe. This restless, highly gifted musician was not content with a one-dimensional career. Susato went on to establish himself as a dealer in musical instruments, as an editor, and as a composer. His skills in music and business, as well as his drive and ambition, are perhaps most visible to us now in his activities as a printer of music, for he founded one of the most productive and highly respected publishing houses of music of the 16th century. In 1551 Antwerp printer Tielman Susato began publication of his Musyck boexken, a series devoted to Dutch-texted polyphonic music. This was the most serious attempt by a sixteenth-century publisher to popularize the genre.


Ottaviano Petrucci was one of the first printers to publish music using the Gutenberg printing process. Many historians believe that his first book, Harmonice Musices Odhecaton (Venice, 1501), is the first music collection printed using the Gutenberg printing system.



The following MP3 file and graphic to the left are from the 16th Century publication of Renaissance alchemist Michael Maier's "Atalanta Fugiens" which was an early example of multi-media. Atalanta Fugiens contained 50 sections, each made up of a emblem graphic, a written exposition and a musical composition, which create a symbolic alchemical publication based on the Greek myth of Atalanta. The link above will take you to our web page about Atalanta Fugiens.

MP3 of our arrangement of the tenth piece in Atalanta Fugiens

Tobias Hume was an English violist and composer who was born around 1569 and he died the 16th of April 1645. He was said to have been an army officer, a captain, and an excellent performer on the viola da gamba.

Hume published a few unique books of music, all made up of his own works, rather than arrangements or compositions of other musicians and composers. The following arrangements are from Hume's publications.


A broadside published in Renaissance England,
complete with music and lyrics.


The Early Music Printers
MP3 collections

Attaignant - Branle MP3 sample
Attaignant - Jan petit Jan Jehan L'Heritier
Attaignant - Magdalena
Attaignant - Tourdion
Attaignant Preludium
Moderne - Branle
Moderne - Pavanne
Petrucci - Ala Audience
Petrucci - Antoine Busnois
Petrucci - Danse
Petrucci - James James James
Petrucci - Johannes Ghiselin Verbonnet, La Spagna
Petrucci - Josquin, Cela sans plus
Petrucci - Josquin, La Bernardina
Petrucci -Anonymous, Dit le Burguygnon
Matheo Pagano - Song
Susato - Das Ganze
Susato - Doulce memoire - MP3 sample
Susato - Een meysken eens voerby passeerde
Susato - J'ay si forte battaille
Susato - Si ton amour
Susato - Pavan

You can download the entire collection of MP3 files listed above in the format of 2 "zip" files for the price of $5.00.
After your Paypal or Credit Card pavement is processed you will quickly receive an email with the download links for the two collections.

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Music Of The Early Printers


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