Only a few years after Petrucci began to produce polyphonic music books by using a multiple-impression technique, a few German printers attempted to enter the same market. During this early period, music printing was an exciting new enterprise with a yet undetermined level of success. Consequently, only a handful of printers risked producing fonts for mensural notation. They initiated a new line of their business in the awareness such products required increased effort and personnel trained in music.

This chapter examines these pioneers, their music prints and their printing materials. The material collected for the database vdm reveals that seven German workshops printed mensural notation from multiple-impression type between 1507 and 1539, located in six cities, most in the south-western part of the German-speaking area. Together they produced a total of twenty-five known editions. The printers of polyphonic music will be introduced as individual figures embedded in their cultural environment. An analysis of the kinds of repertoire and sources they published reveals networks for the exchange of knowledge and materials.

This chapter documents the different ways early German music printers used a multiple-impression process to print mensural notation, and provides a type repertory of German multiple-impression music fonts, such as Mary Kay Duggan created for the printing of chant in the fifteenth century (1992) and Donald W. Krummel for single-impression music fonts (1985). It also examines the aesthetics of the fonts, the net result of the proportions of the type, the mise-en-page, the format and the printed area. In combination, these features create the individual character of a given printing shop’s output, which is far from the more standardised appearance of later printed music notation.