The Play of Meanings: Aribo's de Musica and the Hermeneutics of Musical Thought

The Play of Meanings: Aribo's de Musica and the Hermeneutics of Musical Thought

by Gabriela Ilnitchi
     
 

Aribo Scholasticus was an eleventh-century music theorist whose treatise De musica was critical in the development of modal theory. By placing emphasis on melodic formulae as well as scales in the definition of mode, Aribo altered the way Western musicians viewed music. The Play of Meanings: Aribo's De Musica and the Hermeneutics of Musical Thought provides a

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Overview

Aribo Scholasticus was an eleventh-century music theorist whose treatise De musica was critical in the development of modal theory. By placing emphasis on melodic formulae as well as scales in the definition of mode, Aribo altered the way Western musicians viewed music. The Play of Meanings: Aribo's De Musica and the Hermeneutics of Musical Thought provides a close reading of the treatise and suggests that an investigation of Aribo's imagery, music theories, and methodology of presentation is critical to a nuanced understanding of not only the treatise itself, but also of its conceptual and theoretical relationship to the larger world of eleventh-century musical thought. The manner in which Aribo's text circulated in the Middle Ages, as well as the chants he cites and his views on music theory, suggest that Aribo's work was intended for a medieval reader who was proficient in music theory - well trained in ratio, yet also versed in Neoplatonic philosophy and biblical exegesis. The interpretive process laid out in this study yields an understanding of Aribo's work that ultimately alters our preconceptions of what a medieval music theory text might or should have been, unveiling a rich field of interconnected meanings. This work finally settles the academic question of this early medieval musicologist's identity, putting forth the first-ever examination of his musical theories as taken from original texts and extant discussions on the subject. As such, it is an essential reference for all medieval scholars and musicologists.

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Editorial Reviews

Reference and Research Book News
De musica is a treatise on modal theory written by music theorist Aribo Scholasticus, who changed perspectives on music in his interpretation of the melodic modes. Ilnitchi (musicology, Eastman School of Music, U. of Rochester) analyzes the "all but forgotten" manuscript for its use of imagery, unique terminology, ideas, methodology, specific audience, and how it corresponded to musical thought at the time. She states that one cannot use conventional methods to understand it, nor does it turn out to be a typical treatise. Ilnitchi considers the manuscript, musical examples used in it, the controversy over who its author was, rhetoric, discourse, and surrounding philosophy.
January 2007 Speculum
The Play of Meanings is a well-documented investigation of a theme frequently neglected in studies of medieval music theory: the relationship between a specific treatise and the broader intellectual currents of the era that produced it.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810856516
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
09/28/2005
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.76(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Gabriela Ilnitchi is an associate professor of Musicology in the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.

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