Ganassi workshop SCB

Handwritten cadences contained in the Fontegara book preserved at Wolfenbuttel
Handwritten cadences contained in the Fontegara book preserved at Wolfenbuttel

Modo & practica del diminuire
Diminutions in Sylvestro Ganassi’s Fontegara (1535)
by Vicente Parrilla

SCB, January 22–23, 2020


  1. Introduction
  2. Contents
    2.1 Introducing “Ganassi Fontegara Numbered” (GFN)
    2.2 Repertoire
  3. Lessons format
  4. Questions?

1. Introduction

“Altro non e diminuire che variare la cosa over processo che di natura se dimostra soda: e semplice.”

—Silvestro Ganassi, Fontegara (1535), chap. 9.

As it is well known, Ganassi’s treatise Fontegara (1535), despite being the largest known repository of embellishing formulas from the Renaissance, is devoid of actual musical pieces. This fact poses two main questions for today’s performers: we can’t know with certainty the exact repertory Ganassi may have applied his diminutions to. And, at the same time, the lack of embellished pieces by the author deprives us of models that we could take as examples when trying to follow his instructions to embellish new pieces. However, a close exam of his published works gives numerous hints in both directions.

This workshop will explore the possibility to bring back to life the myriad of melodic formulas (known as divisions or diminutions) contained in Ganassi’s 1535 publication through the analysis of the main questions and problems related to this practice and hands-on training, including demonstrations and case studies.

2. Contents

2.1 Introducing “Ganassi Fontegara Numbered” (GFN)

Ganassi Fontegara Numbered – GFN
Ganassi Fontegara Numbered – GFN

A system for precisely locating items in Fontegara to facilitate research, analysis, and practical use of its contents.

  • Download PDF with OCR from


  • Download PDF from


Read more: please visit this link for an explanation of the GFN cataloguing system.

2.2 Repertoire

Students are encouraged to prepare their own embellished pieces after Ganassi. Here is a list of suggested repertoire (Table 1) just in case it helps, but they are free to choose their own pieces as well. Another option could be to perform some of the already-made diminutions prepared by me (see Table 2 below).

Table 1. Suggested repertoire. Pieces to be embellished:

Composer Title Form PDF facsimile PDF score Source
Jacquet de Mantua (1483–1559) Audi, dulcis amica mea Motet a 4 link link 1
Jean Mouton (ca. 1459–1522) Dulces exuviae Motet a 4 link link 2
Adriaan Willaert (ca. 1490–1562) Io amai sempre Madrigal a 4 link link 3
Nicolas Gombert (ca. 1495–ca. 1560) Tous les regrets Chanson a 6 link link 4
Jhan Gero (fl. 1540–55) Io penso & nel pensar pensier Madrigal a 3 link link 5
Josquin Desprez (ca. 1450–1521) Mille regrets Chanson a 4 link link 6
Cipriano de Rore (1515/16–1565) Schiet’arbuscel Madrigal a 4 link link 7
Giacomo Fogliano (1468–1548) Io vorrei Dio d’amore Madrigal a 3 link link 8

Interested in working on some of the above pieces? To save you time and to facilitate work, Finale .musx files of most of the pieces above can eventually be provided upon request.


  1. Celeberrimi maximeque delectabilis musici Jachet. G. Scotto, Venice, 1539
  2. Choirbook GB-Lbl Royal 8 G. vii. Ms., possibly copied by P. Alamire
  3. Mvsica Nova di Adriano VVillaert… A. Gardano, Venice, 1559
  4. Le cincquiesme livre contenant trente & deux chansons. T. Susato, Antwerp, 1544
  5. Di Jhan Gero Il primo libro di madrigali a tre voci. A. Gardano, Venice, 1559
  6. L’unziesme livre contenant vingt & neuf chansons amoureuses. T. Susato, Antwerp, 1549
  7. Il secondo libro de madrigali. A. Gardano, Venice, 1557
  8. Delli Madrigali a tre voci. O. Scotto, Venice, 1537

Table 2. Suggested repertoire. Embellished pieces by VP:

Composer Title Form PDF score
Marchetto Cara Chi me dara piu pace Frottola a 3 link
B. Tromboncino Per dolor me bagno il viso Frottola a 3 link
Philippe Verdelot Igno soave Madrigal a 4 link
Philippe Verdelot Madonna per voi ardo Madrigal a 4 link
P. Regnault dit Sandrin Doulce Memoire Chanson a 4 link

3. Lessons format

  • Introductory lecture
  • Individual lessons
  • Recorder consort lessons
  • Other chamber music settings

4. Questions?

Questions, suggestions? Feel free to contact me.