Mode first developed as a pragmatic means of sorting into categories the liturgical music that had long circulated through the oral tradition. At the same time that scholastic music theorists were formulating modal theory, their colleagues were embarking on a new set of practices involving two or more simultaneously sounding voices: polyphony. The next generation of music theorists, however, began to interrogate the music composed by their own contemporaries. As free composition came to the fore, theorists returned to the question of mode, now explicitly as it pertained to the musics of their own moment. Three theorists of polyphonic mode—Pietro Aron, Heinrich Glareanus, and Gioseffo Zarlino—do not concur on all details: Aron persists with the traditional eight categories, Glareanus increases the number to twelve, Zarlino adopts (without citation) Glareanus's twelve but changes the principle of numbering. This chapter examines the various modes individually, following the lead of Renaissance theorists in offering a smattering of pieces belonging to each of the modes—in this case, the very madrigals tackled earlier.
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