Le institutioni harmoniche ...Nelle quali; oltra le materie appartenenti alla musica; Si trovano dichiarati molti luoghi di poeti, d'historici, & di filosofi; si come nel leggerle si potrà chiaramente vedere. Venice: Francesco dei Franceschi, 1558
Folio (12 1/8 x 8 ¼ in.; 308 x 210 mm). Woodcut printer's device on title, many woodcut diagrams and typographical musical examples, historiated woodcut initials; title somewhat soiled with some marginal worming, worm puncture in lower margin of next five leaves, occasional light marginal spots and soiling. Contemporary vellum, manuscript title on spine; covers renewed with old vellum. Green cloth slipcase.
Damschroder-Williams p. 392; RISM BVI, 907; Eitner X, 332; PMM 81
First edition of this classic in harmonic theory, what Monteverdi called the prima prattica ("original method") in polyphony and counterpoint, alongside of which a progressive style was then emerging. Zarlino (1517-1590) was, at the time of writing, a deacon in Venice, studying music with Adrian Willaert. In 1565 he became choirmaster of San Marco.
The Institutioni deals with the whole theory of music. The first of its four books is devoted to a panegyrical dissertation on the excellence of music; the second treats the theory of harmony, attacking the false system of tonality to which the proportions of Pythagorean theory must inevitably lead; the third treats counterpoint in a conservative manner, particularly in how a dissonance is approached and left, provoking widespread attacks by Vincenzo Galilei and others; the fourth treats a new ordering of the twelve modes. His work "opened the way for the new tonality which has governed music from the seventeenth century to the present day" (PMM).
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