Nothing is quite so fun a serious scholarly debate – especially when it turns deadly. In the case of M. Pierre Aubry (1874-1910), the issue was the vitally important performance practices surrounding monophonic song. Aubry supported the rhythmic interpretation of monody based on the application Franco of Cologne’s treatise.
Much like the Calculus, the origination of the idea came into dispute. A certain J.B. Beck claimed that he had developed the theory first. Naturally, they decided to settle the argument like gentlemen. Instead of hashing it out in scholarly journals, they agreed to meet for a duel. Unfortunately for Aubry, his scholarly acumen was not as agile as his swordplay. Aubry received a foil wound preparing for the duel and died.
A much preferred method for settling disputes was developed by M. Nicolas-Médard Audinot (1732-1801). He got into a dispute with other actors at the Comédie-Italienne and left. So, he set up a marionette theatre down the street where the marionettes did parodies of the actors at the Comédie-Italienne. It was a great success.
We can all learn an important lesson from this. If you don’t want to die from arguing about obscure theoretical matters, it is best to make a puppet show that makes fun of your adversary.