Maurice A. Finocchiaro (Philosophy) published the article “Vincenzo Galilei’s Musicology and Galileo’s Science: Methodological Comparison and Contrast” in the latest issue of the journal Isis. Founded in 1912, and named after an ancient Egyptian goddess, this is the official journal of the History of Science Society. The article discusses the intellectual relationship between Galileo and his father Vincenzo, who was a musician, composer, performer, historian, and musicologist; 2020 was the 500th anniversary of his birth. Finocchiaro has been at UNLV since 1970 and is Distinguished Professor Emeritus.
The article argues that Vincenzo was a pioneer of the experimental method, applying it in musical acoustics with experiments to determine how sounds from vibrating strings vary due to changes in material, length, and tension; Galileo learned experimention from him, but applied it to falling bodies, to determine the relationship among speed, distance, and time, thus revolutionizing the science of physics. The article also analyzes their masterworks, Vincenzo’s Dialogue on Ancient and Modern Music and Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican; despite superficial similarities, here we have primarily a contrast, since Galileo’s book is incomparably more sophisticated with regard to dramatic power, unified coherence, critical reasoning, and methodological self-reflection.