Renaissance Music Between Science and Art

The Case of Gioseffo Zarlino


  • Nejc Sukljan University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia



Gioseffo Zarlino, music theory, Renaissance, Antiquity, senario


This paper deals with the role of ancient music theory in Gioseffo Zarlino’s Istitutioni harmoniche and, within its framework, in particular with mathematical and physical considerations and their relevance to audible music. An outline of the treatise is followed by a presentation of Zarlino’s justification of music as scienza and arte. Finally, two case studies are presented on joining ancient theory with contemporary musical practice: the division of the interval and the system of the senario.


Download data is not yet available.


Aristotle. Physics. Translated by Robin Waterfield. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Baldi, Bernardino. Le vite de’ matematici Italiani. Edited by Elio Nenci. Milano: Franco Angeli, 1998.

Barker, Andrew. Greek Musical Writings II: Harmonic and Acoustic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus. Fundamentals of Music. Translated by Calvin M. Bower, edited by Claude V. Palisca. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

Euclid, Euclid’s Elements. Trans. David E. Joyce. 1998. Accessed 2 August 2020.

Masi, Michael. Boethian Number Theory: A Translation of the De Institutione Arithmetica. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006.

Palisca, Claude V. Humanism in Italian Renaissance Musical Thought. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.

Rivera, Benito V. “Theory Ruled by Practice: Zarlino’s Reversal of the Classical System of Proportions.” Indiana Theory Review 16 (1995): 145–170.

Walker, Daniel Pickering. Studies in musical science in the late Renaissance. London: Warburg Institute London, 1978.

Wienpahl, Robert W. “Zarlino, the Senario, and Tonality.” Journal of the

American Musicological Society 12, no. 1 (1959): 27–41.

Zarlino, Gioseffo. Le Dimostrationi harmoniche. De tutte l’opere del R. M Gioseffo Zarlino da Chioggia II. Venezia, 1589.

Zarlino, Gioseffo. L’istituzioni armoniche. Edited by Silvia Urbani. Treviso: Diastema, 2011.



30. 12. 2020

How to Cite

Sukljan, N. (2020). Renaissance Music Between Science and Art: The Case of Gioseffo Zarlino. Musicological Annual, 56(2), 183-206.