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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Music (M.M.)

Year Degree Awarded

January 2008

Month Degree Awarded



15th-century Florentine improvvisatore, poesia per musica, frottola versification forms, immortality mind and Soul, naturalism, capitola


The improvvisatore tradition in Florence Italy during the second half of the quattrocento featured poet-musicians who sang poetry for music (poesia per musica) accompanied by the lira (da braccio). This thesis researches Florentine literati and threads of humanism in relation to poetry written for music. By doing so, philosophical and literary trends are analyzed in relation to the Florentine improvvisatore style: frottola versification forms and divinus furor.

Marsilio Ficino’s (1433-1499) direction at the Platonic Academy (founded c. 1463) outside Florence in the hills of Carregi influenced some of the greatest artists and musicians of his time. This thesis focuses on lyric improvisation as a means of connecting mind and body with the universe. In doing so, Ficino’s music-spirit-theory and astrological program are looked at in light of the Platonic sources. The instrument of the improvvisatore, the lira, will be analyzed in relation to affect (ethos) and wellness for mind (soul) and body


First Advisor

Robert Eisenstein

Second Advisor

Ernest May