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date: 15 October 2019

Riccati, Count Giordanolocked

  • Patrizio Barbieri


(b Castelfranco Veneto, nr Treviso, Feb 25, 1709; d Treviso, July 20, 1790). Italian music theorist and acoustician. He studied with his father, the mathematician Jacopo Giordano, and at the University of Padua. In 1733 he withdrew to the family estates in Castelfranco Veneto and Treviso where he worked independently of the academic world. An amateur musician (singer, harpsichordist and violinist), he taught G.B. Bortolani (‘il Melani’) and Ignazio Spergher.

Riccati preceded Rameau in formulating a theory of the origin of the tonal scale in the triads based on the first, fourth and fifth degrees. He sent the document in which he claims to have made the discovery to F.A. Vallotti; its authenticity is confirmed by Vallotti’s reply dated 13 January 1735. In this document Riccati examines the numbering of the chords with which Vallotti accompanied the diatonic scale in his compositions, showing that they are simply the consonant triads based on the first, fourth and fifth degrees of the scale. Riccati also tries to give a rational justification for the harmonic identity between a chord and its inversions. As opposed to Rameau’s strict methodology based on Enlightenment ideas, Riccati based his ‘experiment’ on compositions by the great masters; his is substantially an empirical theory. In ...

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Galpin Society Journal
Rivista italiana di musicologia