Humanism in Italian Renaissance

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Claude v. Palisca Humanism in Italian RenaissanceA Compreehensive book on Renaissance Italian Music.


  • Claude V. Palisca




    Yale University Press New Haven and London

  • Humanism in Italian Renaissance Musical Thought

  • I'ublishcd wilh .1SsUtanCr from the Louis 51t'", Memori;al Fund.

    Copyright 4) 1985 by Yale UniversilY. All righls reserved. This book may 1101 br reproduced. in whole or in pUI. ill ;any form (beyolld Ih;al copy illS permilled by Sections 1117 ;and \08 of Iht' U. S. Copyrighl L.t w .and c"cepl by rc:viewers for II\!: public prcss). wilhout wrinc:n permission Irom the publishers.

    DcsigllC.'d by N.ancy Ovedovill lllli 5C:1 in Ilembo typc: by Rainsford Type. I)rilllell in the United 51311:5 of America by Edwards Brothers. Inc . Ann Arhor. Michigan.

    Library of Congrcss Cataloging ill I)ublicatioll Dala l'alisC:I. Claude V.

    Humanism in h.alian Rm.:aissance musical thOllghl Bibliognphy: p. Includc.'S index. I. Music-haly-15th century-History ;and criticism. 2. Music-

    h.:aly-16th cmlury-History .and crilicism. 3. nen;aissance-haly. 4. Humanism. I. Tide. ML2'JeI.2.1)34 1985781.745 as-8ICJO ISDN 0-300-03302-8 The paprr in Ihis book meets thr guidelincs for permanence and du-rability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Lon-gevily of Ihe Council on Libnry Resources.

    10 I) 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 I

    To tile memory of my motller Gisella Fleisch/lacker Palisca (1895-1944)

  • Contents


    ONE Introduction: An Italian Renaissance in Music? TWO The Rediscovery of the Ancient Sources THREE The Earliest Musical Humanists: Pietro d'Abano FOUR The Earliest Musical Humanists: Giorgio Valla FIVE The Earliest Musical Humanists: Carlo Valgulio

    The Proem to Plm:lrch's De tllllsica A Reply to an Opponent of Music The Translation of the De IHilsica of Plutarch

    SIX The Early Translators: Burana, Lconiceno, Augio

    Giovanni Fr:mcesco Burana Nicolo Leoniceno Giovanni Battista Augio

    SEVEN Antonio Goga va

    Ptolemy's Harmotlics Pseudo-Aristotlc's De alldibiliblls Aristoxcnus' Harmonic Elements Bomigari's Corrections









  • viii Contents

    EIGHT Harmonics and Disharmonies of the Spheres

    Ugolino of Orvieto Giorgio Anselmi Franchino Gaffurio Gioseffo Zarlino Johannes Tinctoris Francisco de Salinas Giovanni Battista Benedetti Celestial Harmony as Myth and Metaphor

    NINE GatTurio as a Humanist

    TEN The Ancient Musica Speclliativa and Renaissance Musical Science

    Franchino Gaffurio Hamos de Pareja Giovanni Spataro Lodovico Fogliano Gioscffo Zarlino Francisco de Salinas Girolamo Fracastoro Giov:mni Battista Benedetti Girolamo Mei and Vincenzo Galilci

    ELEVEN Greek Tonality and Western Modality

    Johannes Gallicus Erasmus of Horitz Giorgio Valla Nicolo Leoniceno Franchino Gaffurio Gioseffo Zarlino Francisco de Salinas Girolamo Mei Vincenzo Galilei The Tonoi and the Waning of Modality Giovanni Bardi Giovanni Battista Doni






    TWELVE A Natural New Alliance of the Arts

    Grammar Mei on tonic accent Pietro Bembo

    THIRTEEN The Poetics of Music

    Music as Poetry Vincenzo Galilci The Poetics of Imitation The Case against Mimesis: Francesco Patrizi Expressing the Affections

    FOURTEEN Theory of Dramatic Music

    Francesco Patrizi Girolamo Mei Jacopo Peri

    Works Cited






    435 453

  • r


    Music historians have long been aware of a link between the revival of ancient learning and the changes in musical style and theory that occurred during the Renaissance. But the ties to antiquity have been hard to pin down. because ancient music could not be recreated as could ancient lit-erature and architecture. Instead. the objects of revival were ancient attitudes and thoughts about music. The route by which these reached Renaissance musicians and critics has not been studied with any precision or thorough-ness. Indeed. the men most rt.'sponsible for the transmission of Greek thought about music have been practically ignored. Their names. some of which head chapters or sections in this book-Pietro dAbano. Giorgio Valla. Carlo Valgulio. Antonio Gogava. Francesco Burana. Nicolo Leoniceno-are missing from even the most comprehensive accounts of the musical culture of the Renaissance.

    This book aims to document the debt that Renaissance musical thought owes to ancient. particularly Greek. musical thought and to trace its path of transmission in Italy. I have had to rely almost entirely on primary sources. Because of this necessity. the previous literature on musical hu-manism and on music in the Renaissance has been given less attention than it truly deserves. Therefore I want to express here my debt to those who earlier explored musical humanism and lighted my way, particularly Ed-ward E. Lowinsky. PaulO. Kristeller. Nino Pirrotta, Leo Schrade, D. P. Walker. and Edith Weber, for I have learned enormously from them.

    In general the field has been dominated by the hunt for parallels between musical manifestations and those in other ans and humanities that show a strong reliance on ancient models. But even where parallels have been found. there has been little direct evidence of relationships among the composers. writers. philosophers. architects. and artists whose work is involved. I cannot claim to have discovered many such associations either, so the search must continue, for where no direct connections can be shown. the con-


  • xii Preface

    current trends. like parallel lines. never meet. and we can learn little from simply contemplating the striking analogil'S. I have avoided drawing such parallels. limiting myself to those connections between music and ancient thought that we know existed in the minds of Renaissance men because they are recorded in writing. These considerations. too. explain why I have not allocated much space to past literature on musical humanism. As a consequence of this approach and the interdisciplinary scope of my study. the secondary literature referred to in the footnotes is restricted to those works that were specifically utilized for the material in the text. and the bibliography lists only these.

    Some chapters may strike the reader as almost anthologies of extracts from Renaissance writings on music and related subjects. Since so many of the works quoted are unpublished or extremely rare. this was the only way I could let my authors speak for themselves. And since none of them wrote in English. I wanted to let the reader experience the power of their own words. with the aid of parallel translations. Whenever possible the material in the two columns corresponds line for line. consequences of which are a certain literalness and a ragged format. The translations are my own except where I have indicated otherwise.

    Many organizations and individuals have generously supported my re-search over the years. It was begun in Florence on a Guggenheim Fellowship and completed on a second one twenty years later. In between. a Senior Fellowship of the National Endowment for the Humanities permitted a year in Paris at the remarkable collection of Renaissance books of the Biblio-theque Nationale. The Whitney Griswold Fund of Yale University aided the preparation of the manuscript. And. of course. the Yale libraries. p~rticularly the Music Library and the Beinecke: Rare Book and Manuscnpt Library. provided a solid home base for my investigations.

    Several of my students at Yale have helped me during various stages. joseph DiGiovanni. of the Renaissance Studies Program. transcribed parts of Leoniceno's translation ofPtolemy's Harmonics. Deborah Narani. of the Medieval Studies Program. checked my translations of Pietro d'Abano's commentary on the pseudo-Aristotle Problems. Otto Stein mayer. of the Classics Depanment. reviewed most of my translations from Latin and made many essential improvements in them.

    Of the many colleagues to whom I feel indebted. I should name seve~al. jon Solomon. of the University of Arizona. kindly made available his trans-lation ofCleonides' Harmonic introduction. Frank d' Accone, of the University of California, Los Angeles, and james Haar. of the University of North Carolina, contributed to my thinking with their learned commentaries on my first chapter when it was delivered as a lecture in honor of A. Tillman Merritt's retirement from Harvard. Thomas J. Mathiesen, of Brigham Young

    Preface xiii

    University. enriched and enhanced this book in many ways. by lending me microfilms of Greek manuscripts that once belonged to Giorgio Valla. by letting me use some of the information in the catalog of Greek manuscripts of music theory he is preparing for the RepertOire imernationale des sources musicales, by reviewing my translations of the Latin versions of Greek trea-tises by Burana. Leoniceno. Gogava. and Augio and offering many prov-ident corrections and excellent suggestions. and. finally. by reading and commenting on the entire manuscript. To these scholars I. and the reader too. owe sincere thanks.

    Among others who have stood behind this work. I give special thanks to Edward Tripp. Editor-in-Chief of the Yale University Press. for his encouragement and interest. to jean van Altena for her very attentive reading and sympathetic editing. to Michael Pepper and jay Williams for their resourceful recoding and production of the manuscript from its electronic state. to my daughter Madeline for her punctilious drafting of the index. and to my wife. Jane. for advice on many matters. big and small. and for her confidence and unfailing support.

    Branford October 1984

  • r


    Introduction: An Italian Renaissance in Music?

    istorians generally view the Renaissance as a movement that began in Italy and spread northward. Music histo-rians. however. have habitually begun the study of music in the Renaissance with composers associated with France Jnd the Low Countries. Gustave Reese organized his book lHIIsi( i" th,' R"lldiSSI1I1((' on the premise that a central mus-

    ical language arose in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in France. the Low Countries. and Italy. and spread to Spain. Portugal. Germany. Eng-land. and eastt:rn Europe. In the first part of the book he defines this language in terms of the music of Dufay. Busnois. and Ockeghem. who were active principally in the north. 1

    Similarly Howard Mayer Brown takes the view that music in the: Ren-aissance "is a northern art. or at least an art by northerners. All of the great composers of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries were born in what is today northern France. Belgium. and Holland.":

    Thus. while the impetus for the Renaissance in the visual arts. literature. and philosophy is generally recognized to have come from Italy and moved across the Alps, we are confronted in music history with the thesis that music. of all artistic expressions. moved in the opposite direction. Now contrary motion may be a praiseworthy polyphonic practice. but it is dis-concerting when applied to cultural historiography. If history in general has a proverbial "problem of the Renaissance." how much more acute it is in music history!

    Heinrich Besseler. reflecting on his own work in Renaissance studies since

    I. Gustave: R.e:rse. MIlS;( ;11 IlIr RtI,a;ssalltt (New York. 1954). Pt. I. 2. Howard Mayer Brown. ''''lIs;( ;11 tI,r R.."a;ssallcr (Englewood Cliffs. 1976). p. 4. Leo

    Schrade:. in "Renaissance: the Historical Conception of an Epoch." K"'~~TfssB('r;("t drT IIII(r. IIa/;ollalt Gtstllscl,aft fiir Mllsikll;swrstl",,,,fi. Utrtc/It 1951 (Amsterdam. 1953). pp. 19-32. took a similar view: "In contrast to the bonae lillerae and to the visual arts as well. the rebirth of music came to pass as an achievement of northern composers ... " (p. 3U) .




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