# GALILEI, Vincenzio

- (1520-1591)
Vincenzio Galilei was a professional musician and merchant who advanced musical theory of the mid-sixteenth century; credited with devising the formula for tuning lutes and viols to a tempered scale, he played an important role in the move from musical polyphony to harmony. He also helped revolutionize natural philosophy because of his profound influence upon the thinking of his famous son, Galileo Galilei.*Vincenzio Galilei studied under Gioseffe Zarlino, a musical theorist of the old school, in which mathematics strictly governed musical theory, and theory controlled contemporary practice. The introduction of new instruments in the sixteenth century revealed some contradictions in contemporary theory, which had long been based upon ancient notions of arithmetic proportion; consequently, the mismatch between the discontinuous integers of arithmetic and the continuum of musical sounds needed to be resolved. In 1558 Zarlino attempted to resolve the growing crisis with his
*Harmonical Institutions*, a treatise that revised the ancient theories, but persisted in privileging mathematical theory over the perception of sound. In 1578 Vincenzio Galilei wrote a defense of tuning practices that departed from those recommended by Zarlino, thereby arguing for the primacy of sound over the rule of mathematics. Zarlino discouraged the printing of Galilei's book, but an expanded version was published in 1581. Zarlino countered in 1588 with*Sopplimenti musicali*(Musical supplements). Galilei fought back in 1589 with a treatise based not simply upon theory and observed practice, but upon actual experiments that he conducted to produce consonance and dissonance by varying lengths of strings and columns of air. This and some subsequent unpublished treatises he passed on to his son, Galileo Galilei, who incorporated his father's experimental method into his own examinations of the physics of sound, thereby revolutionizing contemporary science.**Bibliography**S. Drake, Galileo Studies, 1970.*Tim McGee*

*Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary.
Jo Eldridge Carney.
2001.*

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