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Music in Dialogue: Conversational, Literary, and Didactic Discourse about Music in the Renaissance

Cristle Collins Judd
Journal of Music Theory
Vol. 52, No. 1, Essays in Honor of Sarah Fuller (Spring 2008), pp. 41-74
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40607029
Page Count: 34
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Music in Dialogue: Conversational, Literary, and Didactic Discourse about Music in the Renaissance
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Abstract

This article takes Thomas Morley's A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597) as a point of departure for exploring a group of sixteenth-century texts that place music, especially as represented by musical notation, within the form of a dialogue. Music and musical writings have barely figured in the study of the Renaissance dialogue, yet these works offer specific insights about the nature of the genre. In addition to Morley's treatise, works discussed in detail include Anton Francesco Doni's Dialogo della musica (1544), Gioseffo Zarlino's Dimostrationi harmoniche (1571), and Ercole Bottrìgari's II desiderio overo de concerti (1594). The article focuses on the uniquely hybrid nature of each of these texts and the ways in which various generic constraints and demands of format interact. Musical treatises in dialogue format offer a special means of understanding the broader history of the dialogue and the role of spatiality and temporality in creating verisimilitude. While Doni's Dialogo may be seen as an attempt at interpolating "real music" into the conversational and literary genre of the dialogue, Morley's didactic treatise represents the culmination of that interpolation: the means for taking part in the original conversation, namely the ability to sing.

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