Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The earliest known compositions designated as ricercars were published in the first decade of the sixteenth century. They were short compositions for lute composed primarily of homophonic chordal sections interspersed with flowing scale passages. Bearing little resemblance to the later form, they contained no imitation. Gordon Sutherland, in his excellent study of the development of the ricercar, suggests that the imitative style of the later ricercar can be traced back to earlier related forms--even to the earliest vocal canons. The first imitative ricercars did not appear in print until some forty years after the appearance of the early lute compositions. The ricercar soon became a popular instrumental form and in 1547, the first ricercars in part books were published. Ricercars were seldom written for more than four voice parts. In the later development of the ricercar, compositions for fewer voices predominated; two-part ricercars were popular in the early seventeenth century. In 1606, Ascanio Mayone, a Neapolitan organist and composer issued his Primo libro di ricercari a tre voci. Only one set of the original part books remains extant. It is located in the Biblioteca Conservatorio, a library in Naples, Italy. Previous musical scholarship has ignored or overlooked Mayone’s Ricercari a tre voci. The present study and edition are based on a microfilm copy of the original part books.


Leland Bartholomew

Date of Award

Summer 1964

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1964 Billy Lee Bolton


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