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Light, Edward (DNB00)


LIGHT, EDWARD (1747–1832), professor of music and inventor of musical instruments, was in 1794 organist of Trinity Chapel (St. George's, Hanover Square), Conduit Street, London. He endeavoured with ephemeral success to introduce improvements in the harp and guitar. He died in 1832, at the age of eighty-five.

Light invented (1) the harp-guitar about 1798, an instrument resembling the pedal-harp, with neck and head not unlike the Spanish guitar. There are seven strings tuned like those of the English guitar, with the addition of the fiddle G (Busby). (2) The harp-lute, 1798, with twelve catgut strings, a larger instrument than No. 1, its neck resembling that of the pedal-harp. (3) The harp-lyre, 1816, differing from No. 2 in the shape of the body, which is flat at the back. (4) The British lute-harp, for which Light took out a patent 18 June 1816, a chromatic lute-harp, distinguished by certain pieces of mechanism called ditals, or thumb-keys, which when pressed raise the corresponding string one semitone. (5) The dital harp, which was similar to, if not identical with, the last invention. It is tuned like the pedal-harp, but the order of the strings is reversed, the bass being nearer the performer. The instrument is described by Dr. Busby as strong and sweet in tone, and ‘unquestionably, the pedal-harp excepted, the most eligible accompaniment to the human voice.’

Publications by Light include: 1. ‘A First Book on Music,’ London, 1794. 2. ‘The Musette,’ a collection of lessons and songs for the guitar, with instructions for playing, issued monthly about 1795. 3. ‘The Ladies' Amusement,’ a collection of lessons and songs for guitar, in six numbers, 1800 (?). 4. ‘Concise Instructions for Playing on the English Lute,’ 1800 (?). 5. ‘A New and Complete Directory to the Art of Playing on the British Lute-Harp,’ 1817. It contains a full-page engraving showing the attitude of a performer, and a list of suitable compositions.

[Cat. of the South Kensington Museum Collection of Musical Instruments, pp. 250, 327; Busby's Concert-Room Anecdotes, ii. 275; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 449; Mendel's Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon, iv. 529; Patent Office Specification, No. 4041.]

L. M. M.