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446 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 index. No one with even the slightest interest in Erasmus, Reformation studies, humanism, and indeed in the universal aspirations of people seeking to hold conversation with God will fail to be absorbed. (PENNY J. cotE) Nicola Vicentino. Ancie1Jl Music Adapted to Modem Practice. Trans Maria Rika Maniates, ed Claude V. rĀ·alisca Music Theory Translation Series. Yale University Press 1996. lxx, 488. us$5o.oo One of the more interesting developments in sixteenth-century music theory was the revival of certain aspects of ancient Greek musical practice. Naturally, this revival was part of the widespread curiosity in the Latin West about Greek culture and learning, which was further encouraged by the migration of Byzantme scholars in 1453 after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks. The application of Greek thought to music lingered behind other fields, such as literature and political theory, because of the technical nature of many Greek writings on music, and the lack of existing translations from the Greek into either Latin or the vernacular. In fact the only widely available text that preserved Greek music treatises in Latin was the De institutione musica of Boethius. This text played a central role in shaping the thought of Nicola Vicentino, author of the work under discussion here. Vicentino's treatise, first published in Rome,1555, constituted an attempt to revive the Greek musical system, reconcile it with contemporary practice, and demonstrate its applicability to contemporary composition. Reprinted once, ~n 1557, and unavailable in a modern edition, the first edition was available to scholars only in a photographic facsilnile (Kassel and Basel, 1959) prior to the appearance of the present publication. Maria R.ika Maniates, therefore, has done the scholarly community a commendable service to make this text available in an eminently readable and idiomatic English translation, together with a very thoughtful introduction and a thorough set of explanatory notes. The English reader now has a reliable text and the equipment to place it in its historical and cultural context. One hopes that this volume will inspire a scholar of equal abilities to produce a critical edition of the Italian text (an undertaking normally outside the purview of the Yale series), especially in view of the many corruptions in the 1555 printing identified here by Maniates. Here I shall raise one issue regarding Vicentino's sources. His principal innovat.ion was the adaptation of the three genera (diatonic, chromatic, and enharmonic) of the tetrachord to the Western musical system. Each genus consists of four notes (hence, tetrachord) spanning the interval of a perfect fourth (e.g., B-E), of which the two outside notes are fixed, and the two interior notes move according to the genus. The diatonic and chromatic genera can be accommodated within the prevailing musical system in the West; the enharmonic genus, however, requires a division of the semitone, HUMANITIES 447 which is normally the smallest interval in the Western system. Consequently, Vicentino devised a special keyboard instrument, the archicembalo, that used thirty-one keys for the octave (instead of the usual twelve in conventional keyboards). His motivation in reintroducing these genera was to recapture the legendary power of ancient music toaffect the sout particularly, in the modem application, through the expression of the sentiments of sung literary text. The principal ancient sources for tetrachord theory are Aristoxenus (fl 300 Be) and Ptolemy (fl AD 120), of whom Vicentino seems to be unaware. Rather, Vicentino's account is adapted from that of Boethius, in book 1 of his De institutione musica. Here it would have been useful to know that this passage is probably a translation of the longer treatise of Nicomachus (fl AD roo), which otherwise does not survive, as Calvin Bower points out in his 1989 translation of Boethius. And so Vicentino's material is at least indirectly based on an antique source. Finally Maniates dismisses the connection between Vicentino's division of thewhole tone into five equal parts and that proposed by Marchetta of Padua inhis LtLcidanĀ·um (1317-18). Yet]an Berlinger, in his 1985 edition, has shown that this work was widely read in Italy until at least the end of the fifteenth century, and the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 446-447
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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