Music and Science from Leonardo to Galileo

The Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccheriniin Lucca is pleased to invite submissions for the symposium «Music and Science from Leonardo to Galileo», to be held in Lucca, Complesso Monumentale di San Micheletto, from 13 to 15 November 2020. The conference is dedicated to bringing together new scholarship dealing with the relationships between music and science from the late fifteenth to the early seventeenth century.

The relationship between music and science is particularly close during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and both fields develop and thrive through their often confrontational relationship with patronage, the church, and between theory and practice. During Antiquity and the Middle Ages, music was one of the artes liberales,the inverse proportionality between string length and pitch understood as a model for relationships between art and science. In the modern era, musical sound (and acoustics) has had implications for both music and physics.

Between these two epochs is the period spanning the work of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), in which a scholastic deference to authority, tradition, and theory was being replaced by knowledge derived from observation, experiment, and practice. During this century, new paradigms were developed not only in mathematics, mechanics and astronomy — creating what is commonly known as the as the Scientific Revolution — but also in religion, politics, and other fields of human endeavor.

It was during this time period that the relationship between music and science was newly defined. In addition to Leonardo and Galileo’s vivid interest in music, many of their fellow scientists also shared this interest. On the other hand, many musicians, music theorists and composers were interested in science and explored the possibility of relating music to science.

Proposals for papers are invited that address the relationship between musical and scientific topics during this period ranging from philosophy of music, tuning and temperament systems, instrument construction, patronage, biography, the impact of science on musical composition, and new work on such figures as Leonardo, Galileo, Huygens, Mersenne, and others. We welcome proposals for single papers, as well as panels of two, three or four contributions.

Programme Committee:

  • Victor Coelho (Boston University)
  • Roberto Illiano (Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini)
  • Massimiliano Locanto (Università degli Studi di Salerno)
  • Fulvia Morabito (Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini)
  • Rudolf Rasch (Utrecht University)
  • Massimiliano Sala (Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini)

Keynote Speakers:

  • Victor Coelho (Boston University)
  • Rudolf Rasch (Utrecht University)

The official languages of the conference are English and Italian. Papers selected at the conference will be published in a miscellaneous volume in the series “Music, Science and Technology” (Brepols Publishers, Turnhout).

Papers are limited to twenty minutes in length, allowing time for questions and discussion. Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words along with  a 150-word biography.

All proposals should be submitted by email no later than Sunday, 03 May 2020 to <>. With your proposal please include your name, contact details (postal address, e-mail and telephone number) and (if applicable) your affiliation.

The committee will make its final decision on the abstracts by the end of May, 2020, and contributors will be informed immediately thereafter. Further information about the programme, registration, travel and accommodation will be announced after that date.

For any additional information, please contact:

Dr. Massimiliano Sala