Article ID: CBB854514897

Music and Mathematics: A Case Study in the History of Science (2016)


The Italian musical theorist and lutenist Vincenzo Galilei (1522?-1591), father of Galileo Galilei, held a life-long dispute with Gioseffo Zarlino (1517-1590), the famous theorist and capellmeister of San Marcos, in Venice. Daniel. P Walker and Claude V. Palisca - historians of science and music, respectively - thoroughly analyzed this dispute calling the attention to some quantitative aspects of music theory found in Galilei’s work. These scholars understood the dispute as mainly opposing experimentalism (Galilei) to speculative mathematical reasoning (Zarlino). In the present article we suggest an alternative interpretation for this dispute based on newly found manuscripts by Galilei, according to which the dispute had more to do with the ideas Galilei had of science in general and the role played by arithmetic, geometry and sound in music.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Sargolini, Federica; (2000)
La critica di Vincenzo Galilei al misticismo numerico di Gioseffo Zarlino (/isis/citation/CBB000770286/) unapi

Article Fabio Bellissima; (2014)
Arithmetic, Geometric and Harmonic Means in Music Theory (/isis/citation/CBB139505675/) unapi

Article Fumikazu Saito; Carla Bromberg; (2015)
Measuring the Invisible: A Process among Arithmetic, Geometry and Music (/isis/citation/CBB887924097/) unapi

Article Villegas Guillén, Salvador; (2006)
Un fresco de Rafael, un desconocido Boecio y un diapasón (/isis/citation/CBB001023873/) unapi

Article Palisca, Claude V.; (2000)
Vincenzo Galilei, scienziato sperimentale, mentore del figlio Galileo (/isis/citation/CBB000770284/) unapi

Article BaldisseraPacchetti, Marina; (2014)
Turning Music into Sound: Vincenzo Galilei's Contributions to the History of Acoustics (/isis/citation/CBB001201082/) unapi

Article Bromberg, Carla; Alfonso-Goldfarb, Ana Maria; (2009)
Vincenzo Galilei and Music: Some Socio-Cultural and Acoustical Discussions (/isis/citation/CBB000932132/) unapi

Article Maurice A. Finocchiaro; (2020)
Vincenzo Galilei’s Musicology and Galileo’s Science: Methodological Comparison and Contrast (/isis/citation/CBB582052194/) unapi

Article Cecilia Panti; (2017)
Boethius and Ptolemy on Harmony, Harmonics and Human Music (/isis/citation/CBB900599050/) unapi

Article Berchum, Marnix van; (2014)
Linked Sources: A Network Approach to The Repertory of Sixteenth-Century Polyphony (/isis/citation/CBB001201294/) unapi

Article Siegert, Bernhard; (2013)
Mineral Sound or Missing Fundamental: Cultural History as Signal Analysis (/isis/citation/CBB001320385/) unapi

Article Creese, David; (2012)
Rhetorical Uses of Mathematical Harmonics in Philo and Plutarch (/isis/citation/CBB001221683/) unapi

Article Fabio Bellissima; (2011)
L'antanairesi e la teoria armonica greca (/isis/citation/CBB718056038/) unapi

Article Brenno Boccadoro; (2020)
Saturne et la polyphonie. L’humeur noire de la musique au XVIème siècle (/isis/citation/CBB879935115/) unapi

Article Wood, Kirsten E.; (2014)
“Join with Heart and Soul and Voice”: Music, Harmony, and Politics in the Early American Republic (/isis/citation/CBB001451979/) unapi

Article Bockstaele, Paul; (2009)
Between Viète and Descartes: Adriaan van Roomen and the Mathesis Universalis (/isis/citation/CBB000932082/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Bromberg, Carla
Bellissima, Fabio
Palisca, Claude V.
Sargolini, Federica
Berns, Jörg Jochen
Bockstaele, Paul P.
Bollettino di Storia delle Scienze Matematiche
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Circumscribere: International Journal for the History of Science
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Estudios Clásicos, Órgano de la Sociedad Española de Estudios Clásicos
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Music theory
Harmony (music theory)
Galilei, Vincenzo
Zarlino, Gioseffo
Galilei, Galileo
Descartes, René
Romanus, Adrianus
United States
Turin (Italy)
16th century
17th century
15th century
Early modern

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment