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  • Alexis Luko (a1)


The twelve extant treatises of Johannes Tinctoris offer a wealth of insight into almost every aspect of fifteenth-century music theory. A graduate of the University of Orléans and a doctor of canon and civil law, Tinctoris was an expert in both the language arts of the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic) and the mathematical arts of the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy). Such was his erudition that he was extolled by Johannes Trithemius, one of the leading German humanists of the fifteenth century, as ‘a man very learned in all respects, an outstanding mathematician, a musician of the highest rank, of a keen mind, skilled in eloquence’. Given Tinctoris’s towering intellect, it is no surprise that frequent citations from many of the major thinkers of antiquity – Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Ovid, Virgil, Cicero and Quintilian – appear in his theoretical discussions on mode, mensural notation and counterpoint.



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I am indebted to Julie Cumming, Peter Schubert, Margaret Bent, Bonnie Blackburn, Mary Carruthers, Patrick Macey, Honey Meconi and Christopher Moore, who provided perceptive criticisms and suggestions on earlier drafts. Versions of this paper were given in 2006 at the Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference in Cambridge, the Canadian University Music Society Conference in Toronto and the American Musicological Society New York State – St. Lawrence Chapter Meeting in Syracuse, NY. This article is based on chapter 3 of my dissertation, ‘Unification and Varietas in the Sine nomine Mass from Dufay to Tinctoris’ (Ph.D. diss., McGill University, 2007).

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  • Alexis Luko (a1)


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