Basileae: Henrichvm Petri, Septembris 1547.
Folio. Full mid-tan mottled calf with double rules gilt to edges of boards, raised bands on spine in decorative compartments gilt. 1f. (recto title, verso blank), 2ff. (preface), [i] ("Authorum, qui in hoc opere citantur Nomenclatur"), [iii] (contents of Liber I-III), 1f. ("Cantiones Mensurales" index), 4ff. (index), 470 pp. + [v] (errata), [i] (printer's device) pp. Extensively illustrated with type-set musical examples in square and diamond-head notation and woodcut illustrations, diagrams, and tables throughout, including a full-page illustration of a 24-string zither. With occasional historiated and decorative woodcut initials.
Corrections and some annotations in early manuscript to numerous leaves; one name on list of authors crossed out.
In three books:
Book I, based principally on Boethius and Gafori, deals with several aspects of traditional music theory: definitions of music solmization, the structure of the gamut, mutation, transposition, consonance and dissonance, the smaller and larger semitones, the eight church modes, and music theory as applied to the monochord and some other stringed instruments; there is also a discussion of the section on the modes in Gafori's De Harmonia instrumentorum musicorum opus. This forms a prelude to Book II which introduces the "new" modes, for which Glareanus is justly famous.
Book II is concerned entirely with modal theory; to the eight traditional modes Glareanus proposes the addition of six, viz., the Aeolian, Hypoaeolian, Ionian, Hypoionian, Hyperaeolian, and Hyperphrygian modes. The first authentic plagal pair corresponds to natural minor, the second to major. The last two modes (now usually referred to as the Locrian and Hypolocrian) are dismissed by him as impractical, although, for purposes of illustration, he includes monophonic examples of all fourteen modes.
Book III, which applies to Glareanus' modal theories to the analysis of polyphonic music, begins with an exposition of mensural notation (including a chapter on the tactus) with examples based mostly on Gafori; it also contains numerous polyphonic examples by composers of the recent past, illustrating the twelve usable modes of Glareanus' system. The book concludes with mostly laudatory comments on the skill of Josquin des Prez, Pierre de la Rue, Ockeghem, Obrecht, Brumel, Isaac, and Mouton." Reese: Fourscore Classics of Music Literature, no. 40.
Binding somewhat worn, rubbed, bumped, with evidence of cracks and cuts; recornered and rebacked, with early spine laid down; small area of restoration to upper; edges slightly stained. Occasional minor browning, soiling, and staining; upper outer corners slightly creased; small hole to pp. 47/48 resulting in loss of 2-3 letters of text; very occasional minor mispagination; pp. 247 and 263 slightly trimmed at lower margin, just affecting text; verso of final leaf reinforced with narrow strip of paper to gutter.
A very good, crisp, wide-margined copy overall.
First Edition of this highly influential contribution to Renaissance music theory and practice by the noted Swiss musical theorist, poet, and life-long friend of Erasmus, who described him as "the champion of Swiss humanism." Glarean's treatise was revolutionary for its proposal of twelve musical modes, not the long-assumed eight. The product of more than 20 years of work, the three books discuss various aspects of music theory in detail and also contains a virtual anthology of over 120 musical compositions by Josquin des Prez, Obrecht, Ockeghem and others as well as settings of various Horatian odes including (on pp. 189-190) Quis multa gracilis, translated by Milton.
Reese, 40. Cortot, p. 89. Gregory Bartlett I, p. 109. Hirsch I, 226. Wolffheim I, 673. Damschroder & Williams, pp. 107-108. RISM B/VI/1, p. 366.
"Since the title-page [in Greek] of the Dodecachordon advertises the modal names of his new system, it is clear that Glarean considered it the outstanding contribution of his treatise. To the medieval eight modes he added four more, an Ionian and Hypoionian with finals on C, and an Aeolian and Hypoaeolian with finals on A. He attempted to show that his system was based on the old Greek modes and believed that it was a renewal of modal usage in antiquity. But its value lay in his recognition of Ionian (or major) and Aeolian (or natural minor). He asserted that the Ionian was the mode most frequently used in his time. In applying his system to polyphony Glarean analysed the mode of individual voices. If one voice is in an authentic mode the adjacent voice range (above or below it) usually will be in the plagal of the same mode; sometimes, however, his analyses are polymodal. ...
The impact of the Dodecachordon on Renaissance musical thought was considerable. Although Glarean's system was by no means universally adopted, it was acknowledged either openly or tacitly by many writers. In 1558, 11 years after the publication of the Dodecachordon, Zarlino's Istitutioni harmoniche reproduced Glarean's modal system but without naming Glarean as its author. The Stralsund cantor Eucharius Hoffmann wrote both musical compositions and a theory book (1582) based on Glarean's teaching. Other writers who acknowledged his modal contribution include Cerone, Morley and Zacconi. From a musical point of view the most fruitful results of Glarean's modal principles are found in the many instrumental compositions of late Renaissance composers who applied his ideas. Such men as Merulo, Padovano, and Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli wrote toccatas and ricercares in all 12 modes, or ‘tones’ as they were almost invariably called. For modern scholars the value of the Dodecachordon consists in the extraordinary diversity of its contents. Ambros, for example, called Glarean the founder of musical biography and praised the breadth of his text. Others have stressed the work's significance as a musical anthology, since it contains over 120 compositions (29 by Josquin des Prez, the remainder by Obrecht, Ockeghem, Isaac and others). Some modern writers have praised the work's contribution as a monument of musical humanism, or cited its exhaustive treatment of the polyphonic method of composition of the Franco-Netherlandish school, or pointed out its subtle defence of Catholic orthodoxy." Clement A. Miller in Grove Music Online
"This rare and valuable treatise was written by Henricus Loritus, Poet-laureate, better known as Glareanus, having been born in the Canton Glarus. The object of the work was to prove that there were really twelve ecclesiastical modes, and that these were identical with the ancient Greek modes. Its great interest, however, to modern musicians consists in the examples which it contains of the works of the older musicians such as Josquin de Pres, H. Isaac, Okeghem, Pierre de la Rue and others." Wolffheim, p. 113.
A cornerstone of the literature.
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