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Music and the Making of Modern Science$
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Peter Pesic

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027274

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027274.001.0001

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Music and the Origins of Ancient Science

Music and the Origins of Ancient Science

(p.9) 1 Music and the Origins of Ancient Science
Music and the Making of Modern Science

Peter Pesic

The MIT Press

Music entered deeply into the making of modern science because it was a crucial element of ancient natural philosophy, through which it thereafter remained active well into the formation of the “new philosophy” during the seventeenth century. The Pythagorean connection between music, numbers, and the sensual world remained potent in the quadrivium, the four-fold study of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music that was the centerpiece of higher education until about the eighteenth century. This chapter surveys the ongoing connection between music and its sister sciences in the quadrivium from Plato and the Pythagoreans to Nicomachus and Boethius. The mythical story of Pythagoras in the blacksmith shop arguably represents the earliest recorded experiment, in the later sense of that word. Ancient Greek distinctions between number and magnitude were crucial elements in the unfolding interaction between arithmetic, geometry, and music. Throughout the book where various sound examples are referenced, please see http://mitpress.mit.edu/musicandmodernscience (please note that the sound examples should be viewed in Chrome or Safari Web browsers).

Keywords:   Pythagorean thought, Quadrivium, Plato, Nicomachus, Boethius, Number, Magnitude

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