Leading Renaissance music theorist; b. Chioggia, Italy, March 22, 1517; d. Venice, Feb. 14, 1590. A promising Franciscan theologian at 24, he abandoned this calling in 1541 to study with the world-famous willaert, maestro di cappella of St. Mark's in Venice. He succeeded Willaert in 1565 (three years after the latter's death) and remained in this post for the rest of his life. Although he composed occasional Masses and motets for affairs of state and church, and possibly other works now lost, his importance lies in three contributions to musical theory. The first, Istituzioni harmoniche (1558), contains the most comprehensive exposition of contrapuntal principles produced up to that time. His rules for the proper placement of text are still a model for editors of late 16th-century vocal music. The prominent place accorded the Ionian and Aeolian modes in book four of the Istituzioni anticipated their subsequent supremacy in the 18th century. While vigorously opposed by his own student Vincenzo Galilei, he favored the Ptolemaic rather than the older Pythagorean intonation. In his third treatise, Sopplimenti musicali (1588), written in part as a reply to Galilei's attacks, he proposed for the fretted lute a form of equal temperament commonly accepted only two centuries later.
Bibliography: g. zarlino, Istituzioni armoniche: Books III and IV, o. strunk, ed., Source Readings in Music History (New York 1950) 229–261. a. einstein, The Italian Madrigal, tr. a. h. krappe et al., 3 v. (Princeton 1949). g. reese, Music in the Renaissance (rev. ed. New York 1959). Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, ed. n. slonimsky (5th, rev. ed. New York 1958) 1837–38. m. a. burkhart, s.n.d., "Gioseffo Zarlino's Practice of Counterpoint: A Musical Supplement to Part III of Le instituioni harmoniche, 1558" (Ph.D. diss. Boston University, 1978). j. p. clendinning, "Zarlino and the Helicon of Ptolemy: A Translation with Commentary of Book III, Chapter III of Gioseffo Zarlino's Sopplimenti Musicalí, " Theoria: Historical Aspects of Music Theory 2 (1987), 39–58. a. cŒurdevey, "Contrepoint et structure contrapuntique que de Tinctoris à Zarlino," Analyse Musicale 31 (1993), 40–52. v. cohen, "Zarlino on Modes: An Annotated, Indexed Translation, with Introduction and Commentary, of Part IV of Le istitutioni harmoniche" (Ph.D. diss. City University of New York, 1977). d. collins, "Zarlino and Berardi as Teachers of Canon," Theoria: Historical Aspects of Music Theory 7 (1993), 103–123. c.v. palisca, "Gioseffo Zarlino" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 20, ed. s. sadie (New York 1980) 646–649. d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge 1996) 1006. b. rivera, "Zarlino's Approach to Counterpoint Modified and Transmitted by Seth Calvisius," Theoria: Historical Aspects of Music Theory 4 (1989), 1–9. n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, eighth edition (New York 1992) 2097.
[e. r. lerner]
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