Modes in the 16th and 17th centuries


1 [05:40] Concerning the comfortable vocal ranges, see our episode about high clefs. Also, see this diagram of mode ranges from Andreas OrnithoparchusDe arte cantandi micrologus (Cologne, 1535), Cap IIII: [click to enlarge]

2 [07:30] Historical terminology for the “first cadence” includes: “propria”, “finis principalis”, “finale”. Historical terminology for the “secondary cadence” includes: "secundaria", "dominant", "finus minus principalis". Historical terminology for the “third cadence” includes: "tertia", "mediante", "finis affinalis".

3 [08:04] Like for example in J. Brieger, "Modale Repräsentation in römischen Motetten des 16. Jahrhunderts", In: Das modale System zwischen Theorie und kompositorischer Praxis, Frankfurt 2013, S. 101-114.

4 [08:37] Gallus DresselerPraecepta musicae poeticae (1563), p. 245 (transcription here). Quoted in A. Smith, The performance of 16th-century music (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 95.

5 [09:20] “You may play the tones with whatever subject you like, as long as the subject is founded on its proper species, namely that one part should have the fifth and the other the fourth. When you wish to improvise or compose other pieces in the first tone, its species are re la [d–a] and re sol [a–d1] found between D la sol re, A la mi re, and D la sol re [d–a–d1]. If the tenor or soprano part has the subject which reads re la [d–a] and the bass or alto part reads re sol going from A la mi re to D la sol re, this will be its true formation.” Girolamo Diruta, Seconda parte del Transilvano (Venice, 1609), Book III, p. 12 (Link).

6 [10:14] The example in the clip is by the author. See here further examples for such imitations in Angelo Berardi, Documenti armonici (1689), p. 38 [full book here]

7 [11:15, 11:30] See our video about durum and molle.

8 [11:52] A. Smith, The performance of 16th-century music (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 95. In the appendix there is a compendium of sources about the characteristics of the modes - highly recommended!

9 [15:26] Camillo Angleria, Regola di contrapunto (Milano, 1622), Cap. XXII, p. 80: "Molti hanno scritto della formatione, & cognitione de' Tuoni, ma l'uno dall'altro confusamente; & per questo molti non intendono di che Tuono sia una Cantilna in vederla, e manco in sentirla solamente."

10 [15:46] Christopher Simpson, A Compendium of practical Musick (London, 1667) (Link); Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Regles de Composition (1704).


1. The set of eight modes on four finalis-notes - D, E, F, and G:

Selected sources:
Giovan Maria Lanfranco, Scintille di musica (Brescia, 1533), p. 102 (Link)
Andreas Ornithoparchus, De arte cantandi micrologus (Cologne, 1535), Cap IIII (Link)
Pietro Aron, Compendiolo di molti dubbi (ca.1545), Cap. 28-9 (Link)
Nicola Vicentino, L'antica musica ridotta alla prattica moderna (Rome, 1555), Book I, Cap. XII (Link)
Tomas de Santa Maria, Libro llamado Arte de tañer Fantasia (Valladolid, 1565), Book I, Cap XXIV (Link)
Illuminato Aiguino, Il tesoro illvminato di tvtti i tvoni di canto figvrato (Venice, 1581), from Cap. XVII on (Link)
Pietro Pontio, Ragionamento di Musica (Parma, 1588), p. 94 (“Della Cadenza”) (Link)
Adriano Banchieri, Cartella musicale (Venice, 1614), pp. 68-69 (Link)

2. The set of 12 modes on six finalis-notes - D, E, F, G, A, and C:
Selected sources:
Henricus Glareanus, Dodecachordon (Basel, 1547) (Link).
Giuseffo Zarlino, Le Istitvtioni Harmoniche (Venice, 1558), pp. 309-335 (Link)
Gallus Dressler, Musicae practicae Elementa (Madgeburg, 1571), Cap IIII-VIII (Link)
Ludovico Zacconi, Prattica di musica (Venice, 1592), cap. 12, p. 199 (Link)
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Compositions-Regeln (1600) (Link)
Maternus Beringer, Musica, das ist die Singkunst (Nuremberg, 1605) (Link)
Girolamo Diruta, Seconda parte del Transilvano (Venice, 1609), terzo libro, p. 1-12 (Link)
Daniel Friderici, Musica Figuralis (Rostock, 1619) (Link) [he added also modes 13 and 14 on B]
Johann Andreas Herbst, Musica poëtica (Nuremberg, 1643), pp. 50-58 (Link)

3. The renumbered set of 12 modes on six finalis-notes - C, D, E, F, G, and A:

Selected sources:
Giuseffo Zarlino, Le Istitvtioni Harmoniche, editions of 1573 and 1589.
Giuseffo Zarlino, Dimostrationi harmoniche (Venice, 1571), p. 270 (Link [link is missing pages]).
Salomone de Cuas, Institution harmonique (Frankfurt, 1615), Partie Deuxisme, Cap. X, p. 20 (Link)

4. The set of “new” eight Tuoni/modes:

Selected sources:
Adriano Banchieri, L’Organo Suonarino (Venice, 1605), pp.40-42 (Link)
Camillo Angleria, Regola di contrapunto (Milano, 1622), Cap. XXII (Link)
Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers, Traité de la composition de musique (Paris, 1667), p. 18 (Link). The 7th mode is a D mode with a sharp.
Lorenzo Penna, Li primi albori musicali (Bologna, 1672), pp. 128-32 (Link).
Bartolomeo Bismantova, Compendio musicale (MS, Ferrara, 1677), pp. 56-57.
Johann Baptist Samber, Manuductio ad organum (Salzburg 1704) (Link). The 7th mode is a D mode with a sharp.

The video was created by Elam Rotem and Oren Kirschenbaum

Special thanks to Anne Smith, Johannes Menke, and Alon Schab for their input.

Audio, video and animations by Mel et Lac (