Pietro Aron, also known as Pietro (or Piero) Aaron (ca. 1480 – after 1545), was an Italian music theorist and composer. He was born in Florence and probably died in Bergamo (other sources[weasel words] state Florence or Venice).
Very little is documented about Aron's early life, but it has been supposed that he may have been of Jewish origin (Blackburn 2001), and he was certainly educated in Italy. Musically, he seems to have been largely self-taught. He claimed in his Toscanello in musica (1523) that he had been personally familiar with Obrecht, Josquin, and Heinrich Isaac in Florence. If this is true, and if he meant to claim that he knew them all at the same time, the time frame would have been in the late 1480s to mid 1490s, most likely in 1487 (Bergquist 1964, 24). Between 1515 and 1522, he was cantor at the cathedral of Imola, and in 1516 he became a priest there. By February 1523 he went to Venice and became cantor of Rimini Cathedral, where he worked for Sebastiano Michiel, who was Grand Prior of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. In 1525, he was "maestro di casa" in a Venetian house. In 1536, after the death of Michiel, he joined a monastery in Bergamo where he remained until the end of his life; at least one publication dates from this time.
Aron's significance was mainly derived from his treatises on the contrapuntal practice of the period. His earliest treatise, De institutione harmonica, is on counterpoint, and is written in Italian: most scholarly writings of the time are in Latin, but Aron preferred the vernacular. In Thoscanello de la musica (later Toscanello in musica) he was the first to observe the change from linear writing to vertical: this was the first period in music history where composers began to become conscious of chords and the flow of harmony. Aron included tables of four-voice chords, the beginning of the trend which was to result in functional tonality in the early 17th century. He also discusses tuning, and the book is the first to describe quarter-comma meantone. Other topics covered by Aron include the use of the eight modes, four-voice cadences, notation of accidentals.
Aron was a friend and frequent correspondent of music theorist Giovanni Spataro. Only Spataro's letters to Aron have survived. Topics discussed by the two include contemporary composers and composition, notation, and especially the use of accidentals.
While Aron was known as a composer and frequently refers to his own works in his writings, only one composition of his survives.[vague]
- Libri tres de institutione harmonica (Bologna, 1516 ; this edition on Vicifons)[dead link]
- Thoscanello de la musica (Venice, 1523; four reprints as Toscanello in musica 1525-1562)
- Trattato della natura et cognitione di tutti gli tuoni di canto figurato (Venice, 1525; partially reproduced and retranslated[vague] into English in 1950 in Otto Strunk's Source Readings in Music History, N.Y.[full citation needed])
- Lucidario in musica di alcune opinione antiche e moderne (Venice, 1545)
- Compendiolo di molti dubbi, segreti, et sentenze intorno al canto fermo et figurato (Milan, n.d., probably posthumous, as the title page bears the inscription: "In memoria eterna erit Aron")
References and further reading
- Bergquist, Ed Peter, Jr. 1964. "The Theoretical Writings of Pietro Aaron". PhD diss. New York: Columbia University.
- Blackburn, Bonnie. 2001. "Aaron [Aron], Pietro [Piero]". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Bergquist, Peter. 1967. "Mode and Polyphony around 1500: Theory and Practice". Music Forum 1:99–161.
- Link, John W., Jr. 1963. Theory and Tuning: Aron's Mean Tone Temperament and Marpurg's Temperament "I". Boston: Tuners Supply Company.
- Blackburn, Bonnie. n.d. Pietro Aaron, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed November 12, 2005), (subscription access)
- Reese, Gustave. 1954. Music in the Renaissance. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-09530-4
- Slonimsky, Nicolas. 1984. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, seventh edition. New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-870270-0.