Master of Music (MM)



Document Type



Franchino Gafurio’s Apologia (Turin, 1520) is one musical treatise in a series of works that constituted the famous “pamphlet war” between he and Giovanni Spataro. The dispute originated with the publication of Bartholomeo Ramis de Pareia’s Musica practica (Bologna, 1482). Unconventional and unapologetically critical, Ramis rejected venerated musical traditions in an attempt to align music theory with contemporary music practice. He opposed the Pythagorean division of the monochord and Guidonian solmization syllables, and instead proposed a division which produced pure thirds, and a solmization system based on the octave. His iconoclastic proposals and his highly sarcastic tone called forth a firestorm of backlash. Gafurio entered the debate as an opponent of Ramis, though his main focus was on Spataro: his Apologia, Epistula prima in solutiones obiectorum Io. Vaginarii Bononiensis (Milan, 1521), and Epistula secunda apologetica (Milan, 1521) all respond to claims made by Spataro. Gafurio and Spataro then engaged in a private correspondence lasting a quarter century, of which many of the letters are now lost. Thus, the works of Gafurio serve to frame the entire course of the controversy. This fifty year period was very important in the development of music. The changes proposed by Ramis and later defended by Spataro constitute a distinct shift in the way in which earlier theoretical ideas were valued. Seemingly indisputable laws concerning the practice and composition of music were now re-examined under the lens of humanistic empiricism. This new edition of Gafurio’s Apologia will be a contribution to the larger body of research on Gafurio and his role in the controversy. Of Gafurio’s nine printed works, only three, Theorica musice (Milan, 1492), Practica musice (Milan, 1496), and De harmonia musicorum instrumentorum opus (Milan, 1518), exist in English translation. The theorists involved in the controversy were of the first generation to see their works printed, and of them, Gafurio was arguably the most influential.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jan W. Herlinger



Included in

Music Commons