Faà di Bruno, Giovanni Matteo [Horatio, Orazio] 83

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Fārābī, al-

(b Wasij, district of Farab, Turkestan; d Syria, 950). Islamic philosopher and theorist. He lived for some time in Baghdad, and spent his last years mainly in Aleppo, having accepted an invitation from the Hamdānid ruler Sayf al-Dawla. He was one of the greatest of Islamic philosophers and was regarded as ‘the second teacher’ (Aristotle being the first). He was pre-eminent as a theorist of music, and the surviving part of his Kitāb al-mūsīqī al-kabīr (‘Great book on music’) remains the most imposing of all Arabic works on music. The general approach is more analytical than descriptive, foregrounding schematic or mathematical codifications of possible structures, whether of scale, rhythm or melody. It is especially important for its elaborate treatment of theory, largely based on Greek concepts, but it also reflects aspects of contemporary practice, principally in the sections on instruments and rhythm.

The Kitāb al-mūsīqī al-kabīr consists of an introduction and three books, each in two sections. The extensive introduction is of particular interest for its methodology. It proposes an evolutionary view of music, developing from an initial instinctive use of the voice to express emotion towards a present state of perfection. The first book begins with the physics of sound and goes on to discuss intervals, intervallic relationships and species of tetrachord. The second section of the first book deals with octave divisions in the context of the Greater Perfect System, and then, starting with the concept of the chronos prōtos, surveys various possible rhythmic structures.

The second book is concerned with instruments. The first section is devoted to the fingerboard of the ‘ūd (short-necked lute), with an elaborate discussion of possible frettings. This is followed by a presentation of different (and for the most part purely notional) tunings. The second section covers two kinds of tunbūr (long-necked lute), aerophones, the rabāb (the earliest explicit reference to a bowed instrument) and instruments with unstopped strings, such as the harp. The emphasis throughout is on the various scales that are or can be produced on these instruments, and there is a general absence of physical description.

The third book contains a further section on the rhythmic cycles, but is concerned principally with song structure and composition, the latter viewed mainly in terms of an abstract survey of note combinations and schematic melodic patterns.

The discussion of rhythm in the Kitāb al-mūsīqī al-kabīr is rather complex, and al-Fārābī returned to the subject in two slighter works, the Kitāb al-īqā‘āt (‘Book of rhythms’) and the Kitāb ihsā’ al-īqā‘āt (‘Book of the comprehension of rhythms’). These provide a rather clearer picture of the structure of cycles used by contemporary musicians and the subtle and sometimes complex processes of variation to which they could be subjected.

Unlike al-Fārābī’s purely musical works, his Kitāb ihsā’ al-‘ulūm (De scientiis), which contains a brief section on music, became known in the West, and was translated in the 12th century by both Gerard of Cremona and John of Seville. The section on music, dealing with general definitions and describing the scope of musical theory, is incorporated (under the title De divisione musicae secundum Alpharabium) in the De musica of Hieronymus de Moravia (13th century), and borrowings from it are also to be found in the Pseudo-Aristotelian treatise De musica (13th century) and in the Quatuor principalia musice, often ascribed to Simon Tunstede (d 1369).


Kitāb al-mūsīqī al-kabīr [Great book on music] (MS, NL-Lu 651); ed. G.A.M. Khashaba (Cairo, 1967); trans. in R. d'Erlanger: La musique arabe, i (Paris, 1930), 1–306; ii (1935), 1–101

Kitāb ihsā’ al-‘ulūm [Book of the classification of the sciences] (MS, E-E 646); ed. A. González Palencia with Sp. trans. as Catálogo de las ciencias (Madrid, 1932, 2/1953)

Kitāb al-īqā‘āt [Book of rhythms]; trans. in E. Neubauer, ‘Die Theorie vom Īqā‘, i: Übersetzung des Kitāb al-īqā‘āt von Abū Nasr al-Fārābī’, Oriens, xxi–xxii (1968–9), 196–232

Kitāb ihsā' al-īqā‘āt [Book of the comprehension of rhythms] (Manisa MS 1705, ff.59a–81b, 88a–89b); tr. in E. Neubauer, ‘Die Theorie vom Īqā‘, ii: Übersetzung des Kitāb Ihsā' al-īqā‘āt von Abū Nasr al-Fārābī’, Oriens, xxxiv (1994), 103–73


E.A. Beichert: Die Wissenschaft der Musik bei Al-Fārābī (Regensburg, 1931)

H.G. Farmer: Al-Fārābī’s Arabic-Latin Writings on Music (Glasgow, 1934/R)

D.M. Randel: ‘Al-Fārābī and the Role of Arabic Music Theory in the Latin Middle Ages’, JAMS, xxix (1976), 173–88

B. Reinert: ‘Das Problem des pythagoräischen Kommas in der arabischen Musiktheorie’, Asiatische Studien, xxxiii/2 (1979), 199–217



(Fr.; Provençal farandonlo; Old Fr. barandello).

A chain dance of southern France, particularly of Provence, of the region around Arles and of Tarascon. It is usually performed on major holidays (especially the Feast of Corpus Christi) by a line of men and women in alternation, who either hold hands or are linked by holding handkerchiefs or ribbons between them. The chain follows a leader in a winding path, moving in long and rapid steps and passing beneath arches formed by the raised arms of a couple in the chain. Music for the folkdance is usually in a moderate 6/8, played by a flute and drum. Tradition holds that the farandole was introduced to the region around Marseilles by the Phoenicians, who in turn had learnt it from the Greeks; Sachs suggested that the winding path of the dance symbolized Theseus’s escape from the labyrinth (supporting his idea with iconographical evidence of Ariadne dancing the farandole). Evocations of the farandole, sometimes in simple duple or quadruple metre (2/4 or 4/4), have been used to suggest Provençal ‘local colour’ by 19th- and 20th-century French composers, including D’Indy, Bizet (a brief farandole for the end of Act 3 scene i of Daudet’s L’Arlésienne), Milhaud and Gounod (opening of Act 2 of Mireille).

See also Dance, §3(i), France, §II, 3, Hey and Low Countries, §II, 4.


ES (B.M. Galanti)

A. Mathieu: La farandonlo (Avignon, 1861)

V. Alford: ‘The Farandole with Map and Tunes’, JEFDSS, i (1932–4), 18–33

V. Alford: ‘The Farandole’, Dancing Times (April 1933), 113

C. Sachs: Ein Weltgeschichte des Tanzes (Berlin, 1933; Eng. trans., 1937)

J. Baumel: Les danses populaires, les farandoles, les rondes, les jeux choréographiques et les ballets du Languedoc méditerranéen (Paris, 1958)

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