Johann Gottlieb Nicolaï's A.B.C. for harpsichord or forte piano was published in 1780 in Zwolle, the Netherlands. The author, who was both an organist and a harpsichordist, addressed in this work all those who wish to learn to play a keyboard instrument, including the clavichord, whose specific ornaments are indicated in a table of agréments. The idea of proposing today thid edition is based on the observation of the importance of knowing how to read on a facsimile in the learning of early music. This publication therefore proposes to put the facsimile at the heart of the practice, from the beginning of the instrument, while making better known the material proposed to the students of the time and enriching the pedagogical repertoire.
The pieces composed by Nicolaï are strongly dance-related, the melodies are charming and easily memorized for learning with pleasure. For students with a passion for the repertoire, the author adds "supplements" which allow to play a number of other pieces of similar level, after each of the thirty-two lessons. At the end of his method, Nicolaï leaves empty staves offering a space of freedom where each student can try his hand at composition or simply carefully copy music he likes. Thus, the A.B.C. is a "method with drawers" which allows a varied and pleasant approach, but also a rigorous and considered progression. The pieces are short and immediately address the link with a tempo and an affect, in a very effective and lively way. Although the range of the very first pieces is limited, all areas of the keyboard are gradually exploited, and as the pedagogical progression continues, the student quickly acquires the feeling of size and the knowledge of the different dances, that will develop ease and creativity in his interpretation.
Facsimile of the source preserved in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, self mark: Vmb. 4738 (1). Introduction, illustrations and coloring. Method for all audiences, students & music schools teachers. Level 1st Cycle
Marie Van Rhijn