Fronimo – Dialogo

Table of Contents


The Fronimo Dialogo di Vincentio Galilei is an instructional book on playing, composing and intabulating vocal music for the lute. The first edition was printed by Girolamo Scotto in Venice with the full title FRONIMO DIALOGO / DI VINCENTIO GALILEI FIORENTINO, / NEL QUALE SI CONTENGONO LE VERE, / et necessarie regole del Intavolare la Musica nel Liuto. While the title page bears the date 1568, the final page confusingly bears the date 1569. Apparently, although the manuscript was completed by Galilei in the Autumn of 1568, the official letter of privilege allowing the publication of the book was received only in December, and the printing actually took place in 1569. In addition, still in 1569, Scotto broke the book into two parts, selling a collection of 30 musical selections from near the end of the book and the Dialogo separately. A second edition of the complete Dialogo, with significant revisions, was printed in 1584 by the “heir of Girolamo Scotto,” under the title FRONIMO / DIALOGO / DI VINCENTIO GALILEI / NOBILE FIORENTINO, / SOPRA L'ARTE DEL BENE INTAVOLARE, / ET RETTAMENTE SONARE LA MUSICA / Negli strumenti artificiali si di corde come di fiato, & in particulare nel Liuto.

Unlike other lute instruction manuals of the sixteenth century, each of the editions of Fronimo contains quite a large amount of music. Galilei provided examples in order to illustrate how he believed compositions should be structured and how intabulations should be made from existing compositions. The examples range from a few notes or measures in length up to complete compositions in either mensural notation or lute tablature. In the 1584 edition, for example, there are 48 pieces in tablature form sprinkled throughout the text (including a set of 24 ricercars in all the possible tonalities) and a collection of 60 more pieces placed all together at the end. The 1568 edition includes a total of 96 complete pieces, many of which are different from those chosen for the 1584 edition.



There are at least six commerically-available lute recordings that include some of Vincenzo Galilei's compositions and arrangements.



We provide below literal transcriptions of all the full pieces Galilei included in the form of tablature in the 1584 edtition, courtesy of Göran Crona, who has done all the work of computer data entry. However, many of the pieces contain printer's errors. If you, the reader, make a corrected modern performing edition of a piece for your own use, please feel free to submit it, and it will be posted below for the enjoyment of your fellow lutenists. Submissions in digital form sent by e-mail will be most welcome. Ready-to-post PDF documents are preferable, but TAB, Fronimo or Stringwalker/Django files will also be accepted. We may be able to handle small numbers of paper copies – write for a mailing address – but expect some delay in posting those.

A few ground rules:


It is suggested that you check these files against the facsimile before beginning your edition of a piece. For him to do this enormous amount of data entry completely error-free would be quite unlikely.

Modern Editions


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Acknowledgements:  We are particularly grateful for the contributions of Göran Crona and Doug Towne to this page.

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Last updated 29 March AD 2015 – DFH.