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 Bottrigari's Il 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.
Research Article|April 01 2008
Cristle Collins Judd; Music in Dialogue: Conversational, Literary, and Didactic Discourse about Music in the Renaissance. Journal of Music Theory 1 April 2008; 52 (1): 41–74. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00222909-2009-010
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