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In his treatise Der vollkommene Capellmeister (1739), Johann Mattheson describes an experiment to demonstrate the impact of rhythm on the character and affect of a melody: he transforms well-known hymn melodies into dances and reduces dances to plain hymn tunes. What Mattheson labels as his ‘own invention’ is upon closer scrutiny a practice that can be found in northern German keyboard music since the second half of the seventeenth century. The article traces this practice in sources that must (at least in part) have been known to Mattheson and shows that his contribution is not the rhythmic transformation but the appropriation of this practice within his music-theoretical concept.