Talk:Girolamo Frescobaldi

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I removed this paragraph from the article:

Frescobaldi invented the tempo, making a compromise between the ancient white mensural notation with a rigid tactus and the modern notion of tempo, which is characterized by acceleration and deceleration within a piece.

I can find no evidence that this is true. The replacement of "tactus" and the old system of mensuration in use since the 15th century, or before, with the modern concept of tempo and its correponding system of meter and time signature took place gradually throughout the 17th century, and can be seen in the work of a number of composers. Frescobaldi was certainly one of the innovators (for instance check out his time signatures of "4/6" and "8/12") but calling him the inventor of tempo is just going too far. If I am wrong please present your evidence; I'd be quite happy to see it! Antandrus 04:21, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Talk:Girolamo Frescobaldi[edit]

Dear Antandrus,

I called Frescobaldi the inventor of tempo not because he was using proportions in his pieces, which is a very common procedure even during the 14th and 15th century, but because he made it clear himself that the tactus is no longer an isochrone value and therefore is subject to acceleration and deceleration.

As far as I know he was the first to make it clear textually. I am refering to his own 'Avvertimenti' in the preface to the Capricci (1624) where he states :

Perché il sonare queste opere potrebbe riuscire ad alcuni di molta fatica, vedendole di diversi tempi, et variationi [...] ho voluto avvertire che in quelle cose, che non paressero regolate, con l'uso del contrapunto, si debba primieramente cercar l'affetto di quel passo et il fine dell'Autore circa la dilettatione dell'udito et il modo che si ricercar nel sonare. [...] e nelle trippole, o sesquialtere, se saranno maggiori si portino adagio, se minori alquanto più allegre, se di tre semiminime, più allegre, se saranno sei per quattro si dia il lor tempo con far caminare la battuta allegra [...] Il che sia detto con ogni modestia, et con rimettermi al buon giuditio degli studiosi."

Since this is a very tricky and complex problem of notation and musical paleography, I invite you to read the study of Etienne Darbellay in the supplement to the critical editions of the Capricci and Toccate, where the problem is cleary explained :

Le Toccate e i Capricci di Frescobaldi : Genesi delle edizioni e apparato critico. Milano, Suvini-Zerboni, 1985. (Monumenti musicali italiani, suppl. ai voll. IV, V, VIII) (Girolamo Frescobaldi, Opere complete ; suppl ai voll. II-IV)

If you know of some other musician or theoretician writing about this before Frescobaldi, I would very much love to know of him.


Thanks Christine. Your evidence looks good and I put the paragraph back (it could use a little more explanation but I don't have time to tackle it now). By the way, if you like contributing here I suggest you make yourself a logon! We can use people with specialized knowledge in this and other areas. :-) Antandrus 17:15, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I see many references in places like to notation for notes that refer to Frescobaldi's piece "Fra Jacobino". Was this an innovation used to publish the music for this piece? Does anyone know?
Also when I listen to the piece, it sounds somewhat like Frere Jacques. Given that "Fra Jacobino" is Italian for Frere Jacques, is there any connection? User:Filll 7 Oct 2006

Dear Christine,

I very much appreciate your point, and as a Frescobaldi lover like you, I wish I could credit him with so much more than the modern conception of tempo; just a couple punctualizations. ;-)

Firstly, Frescobaldi's statement of (essentially) the theory of musical affections even predates 1624, since it first appears in the 1615 edition of the Primo Libro di Toccate, Niccolo' Borboni Edition, Rome.

"Premieramente, che non dee questo modo di sonare stare soggetto a battuta, come veggiamo farsi nei Madrigali moderni, i quali quantunque difficili si agevolano per mezzo della battuta portandola hor languida hor veloce, e sostenendola etiandio in aria secondo i loro affetti o senso delle parole."

This, as far as I know (although I'm fairly certain) is the earliest instance when Frescobaldi expressed that thought in a publication, and he clearly refers this idea not to his own invention, but to contemporary vocal music, which brings us to a second point.

This sentiment (and the explicit theory behind it) dates back to the Camerata Fiorentina of a quarter-century earlier, with its notions on Recitar Cantando. For instance, if we look at Giulio Caccini's preface to Le Nuove Musiche (1601), the composer says:

"Avvenga che nobile maniera sia cosi' appellata da me quella, che va usata, senza sottoporsi a misura ordinaria, facendo molte volte il valore delle note la meta' meno secondo i concetti delle parole [...], senza misura quasi favellando in armonia colla suddetta sprezzatura."

An idea paraphrased by Aquilino Coppini six years later while giving recommendations on the execution of Monteverdi's madrigals:

"[I madrigali di] Monteverdi richiedono, durante l'esecuzione, piu' ampi respiri e battute non proprio regolari, talora incalzando o abbandonandosi a rallentamenti, talora anche affrettando. Tu stesso stabilirai il tempo."

I know there are also other instances where this theory is articulated in print prior to Frescobaldi's doing so, but these are the ones that come to mind. So I think that crediting old Girolamo for being the inventor of tempo for essentially embracing the Camerata's theory well over a quarter century after it was first expressed, may be a bit of a stretch. ;-) I think a more cautious statement would be that Frescobaldi may have been the first author who popularized (or legitimized) the Camerata's conception of tempo for keyboard works.

I didn't edit your wording, though, since (as I said), I would credit Frescobaldi with the invention of the wheel, if I could, let alone tempo!

Please write back if you have time!


Frisky Bald Guy[edit]

I'm removing this bit from the Trivia section:

Sometimes jovially referred to as "Frisky Bald Guy" in musicological circles. A play on his name, it is a fitting description of his characteristically sporadic style of composition, and the receding hairline that is evident in his later portraits.

For one thing, I've never ever heard anyone call him that. Google Books and Google Scholar have no results, and all Google results seem to be either Wikipedia mirrors or people who read the article here. For another, it is insulting, really. And finally, the "reasons" provided aren't reasons at all. There are no "later portraits", only one chalk drawing and two engravings probably based on that (and noone really knows when the chalk drawing was done). And the "characteristically sporadic style of composition".. what? So until (and if) a reliable published source backs this up, I suggest keeping the notice out. --Jashiin (talk) 20:12, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Date of birth[edit]

Most external sources that aren't mirrors of WP say he was born "in mid-September". A couple say 9 September; traditionally 9 September was recorded as his date of baptism, meaning a birth no later than that date. So, where does this precise date of 13 September come from? I note the Italian WP article also has that date. Did we just copy them, or did we rely on an actual source? -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 00:45, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Interesting question. The article by Frederick Hammond and Alexander Silbiger in the current online New Grove just says "mid-September", referencing the baptismal entry (with disputed interpretation; a 1983 article by A. Cavicchi -- 'Per far più grande la meraviglia dell'arte', Frescobaldi e il suo tempo (Venice, 1983), 15–39 -- gives some details, but I don't have it). In the 1980 New Grove, there is a bit more detail, but Anthony Newcomb's writeup may have been superseded by Cavicchi's findings. He says, "Although the record of Frescobaldi's birth survives there is no unanimity of opinion as to how to read it. 9 September (Haberl, 1887), 13 September (Bennati) and 15 September (Cametti, 1927, and Casimiri, 1937) have been proposed. The last date should probably be accepted." The Casimiri reference is: R. Casimiri: ‘Tre “Girolamo Frescobaldi” coetanei negli anni 1606–1609’, NA, xiv (1937), 1–10, if anyone would like to chase it down (I don't have JSTOR at home) ("NA" is Note d'archivio per la storia musicale). I think we are safe with "mid-September" if we'd like to reference the current New Grove. Antandrus (talk) 02:50, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the prompt and thorough reply, Ant. You're always good value. Well, given the diversity of opinion, I'd rather leave it as simply "September", and have a footnote mentioning the various proposed dates (9th, 13th, 15th). New Grove seems to be favouring the 13th-15th part of the month, but even they can't be categorical about it. Slonimsky says (or did say) baptised 9 September, and I'd discard that with considerable reluctance. Maybe best to wait for access to the sources your mention before we get any more precise (or any less imprecise) than just the month. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 03:15, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Thank you! Looks fair to me; since we really don't know, and there are diverse opinions, "September" is fine. Antandrus (talk) 04:34, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Aria detta[edit]

Quote from the article: Facsimile of Aria detta la Frescobalda (1627), the earliest known set of variations on an original theme

What does it mean mean exactly? It is a very strong claim. Renaissance/baroque was the period of variations. Many compositions from that time are based on repeating the same theme over and over and playing with it -- basically what you do in variations. In what sense Aria detta la Frescobalda can be called the first then? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:07, 24 October 2011 (UTC)