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date: 31 May 2020

Archivolti, Samuel locked

  • Don Harrán


(b Cesena, 1515; d Padua, 1611). Italian grammarian, poet and rabbi. He refers to music in his treatise on Hebrew grammar, ‘Arugat ha-bosem’ (‘Bed of spices’), which survives in both a manuscript (GB-Lbl Add.27011) and a printed source (Venice, 1602). Subjects of special relevance to music include accentuation, metres and poetical forms. Under accentuation, Archivolti describes the biblical accents (ta‘amei ha-miqra), or melodic formulae used in cantillating the scriptures for marking the syntax and word stresses. Their purpose is to elucidate and embellish the text, thus increasing its hold on the soul. Referring to poetry, Archivolti draws a sharp distinction between the biblical (prose or psalmodic) texts for cantillation and the metric poetry for singing piyyutim, or post-biblical sacred hymns. His preference is for cantillation, which he calls ‘excellent music’ (ha-nigun ha-meshuba), for it is adapted to the words in their structure and content. By comparison, the music for ...

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Fontes artis musicae
London, British Library