This is the fruits of a long-term project to scan, transcribe, translate, and reconstruct Fabritio Caroso's Il Ballarino, a dance manual published in 1581.

Caroso published another dance manual entitled Nobiltà de Dame in 1600, which was subtitled "Second edition of Il Ballarino". This manual has been translated with copious notes by Julia Sutton in Courtly Dance of the Renaissance (Dover, ISBN 0-486-28619-3).

There are several important differences between these two manuals by Caroso. Il Ballarino contains 77 dances; Nobiltà, 49, of which 20 are repeated from Il Ballarino. Thus, Nobiltà provides us with an opportunity to correct some of the many errors in the text and music of Il Ballarino. Since these two manuals were published 19 years apart, it is also possible that we can use them together to look at how dance was changing in the last two decades of the sixteenth century. For example, the rise of Mannerist ideals included an increase in symmetry; Nobiltà is more adament about symmetry than Il Ballarino (Sutton, p. 27).

Editorial Standards

This edition of Il Ballarino is the work of many hands. For the most part, we are amateurs when it comes to sixteenth century music and dance. For this reason, we have adopted a few editorial standards which should aid finding the inevitable mistakes and misinterpretations in our work.

We have taken a "single source" approach to "cleaning up" the transcription. This means that there is a single file which can be used to generate both a "raw" text as close to the original and a "clean" file, which has regularized spellings, dehyphenated words, and so forth.

The music will be provided as a literal transcription into mensural notation, as well as (interepreted) into part music and "fixed" as needed to match the text.

Translation of the text from sixteenth century Italian to English presents the largest hurdle of this project. We plan to rely heavily on John Florio's Queen Anna's New World of Words, published in 1598, with a second edition in 1611. Unlike Julia Sutton's translation, we intend on keeping technical phrases such as passo puntato semigrave untranslated.

The text on this website will be marked up using HTML. There is additional information in the trancsription section as to what conventions are used for characters such as ß, u, v, accents, hyphens, etc.


Since this is a project organized and executed by amateur volunteers, we have many projects with which we could use help. Please send me email at to volunteer.

Return to Fabritio Caroso's Il Ballarino (1581).

Gregory Blount of Isenfir (