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date: 15 November 2019

Alemanno [Alemann], Johananlocked

  • Don Harrán

Extract

(bc1435; d after 1504). Italian philosopher and biblical exegete. He wrote briefly on music in his Ḥesheq shelomoh (‘Solomon's desire’), a commentary on the Song of Solomon, written during the period 1488–92 at the request of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Music is discussed in relation to Hebrew poetics, then classified for its varieties and described for its powers. Under poetics, Alemanno notes that the word shir (‘song’) applies to poetry and music and, within music, to both vocal and instrumental types; he then discerns its usage in three species of poetry: metric and rhymed; non-metric and non-rhymed; and metaphorical. In accordance with the Latin music theorists Alemanno recognizes three kinds of music: natural, artificial and theoretical; the first two refer respectively to vocal and instrumental music and the third (nigun sikhli) to what other Hebrew theorists designate as ḥokhmat ha-musiqah (‘the science of music’). On the effect of music, Alemanno notes its power to awaken love on both earthly (or secular) and divine (or sacred) planes, which correspond to what he conceives as the two exegetical planes – the literal and the allegorical – for interpreting the ...

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