Gioseffo Zarlino

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Zarlino, Gioseffo


Born (probably) Apr. 22, 1517 (according to other sources, January 31 or March 22), in Chioggia; died Feb. 14, 1590 (according to other data, February 4), in Venice. Italian composer, organist, and music theorist.

Zarlino was music director at Saint Mark’s in Venice. A progressive Renaissance scholar, he laid the foundations for the modern study of harmony. In formulating his theories, Zarlino relied on his ear rather than on abstract calculations. The complete edition of his theoretical works was published in Venice in 1588 and 1589. Zarlino’s compositions include motets and madrigals.


Flury, R. G. Zarlino als Komponist. Winterthur, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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One may add here that Jairo Moreno has discussed this matter in other terms, placing such tendencies ("appetite for comic incident") as a requirement for intertextual processes, establishing interplays onto the listening subject's perception as tropes of mediums--a syntax that explores a more complex palette of emotions where irony and ambivalence may flourish (Jairo Moreno, Musical Representations, Subjects, and Objects: the Construction of Musical Thought in Zarlino, Descartes, Rameau, and Weber [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004], pp.
E, nessas relacoes entre as vozes, o contraste (aspecto a que aludiremos bastante nesse trabalho) causado pelo uso de sons dissonantes entre si era um elemento importante para dar "maior beleza e charme" (Zarlino, 1968, p.
A obra de Gioseffo Zarlino, Istitutioni harmoniche, de 1558, sistematiza esta oposicao, propondo dividir todos os estudos teoricos da musica em duas partes: a historia e o metodo.
His father Vincenzo was also a music theorist, and wrote prolifically on the problem of tuning in his Dialogo della musica antica, et della moderna (Galilei, 1581) and the Discorso intorno all'opere dimesser Gioseffo Zarlino (Galilei, 1589).
He sometimes misses obvious references to other important figures in the history of music theory (some of Vallerius's claims come from the work of Gioseffo Zarlino, albeit perhaps filtered through Descartes).
Under the circumstances, it is useful to recall another issue, also involving the timbre parameter of the sound, and that has inflamed the world of music theorists for over three hundred years, since the discovery of overtones as constituents of a complex sound (first mentioned by Gioseffo Zarlino, in his Le istitutioni harmoniche, 1558).
He is the author of several works on early music theory including Music Theory from Boethius to Zarlino (co-authored with David Russell Williams; Duckles Award, 2009) and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Music History Pedagogy.
Music Theory from Boethius to Zarlino. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2007.