Chapter

Harmonics and Acoustics

Leonid Zhmud

in Pythagoras and the Early Pythagoreans

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199289318
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741371 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289318.003.0009
Harmonics and Acoustics

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This chapter begins with a discussion of Pythagoras and the science of music. The fundamental principles of Greek musical theory were taken up and developed by European musicologists. Three basic elements of that theory which the ancient tradition linked with Pythagoras continue to be associated with his name: the mathematical treatment of music; the doctrine of a musical ethos, or the psychagogic and educative effects of music; and the famous ‘harmony of the spheres’ generated by the movement of the heavenly bodies. The discussion then turns to the basic principles of correspondence between sounds and numbers adopted in Pythagorean harmonics, and acoustic experiments described in the ancient literature of musical theory.

Keywords: Pythagoras; music; Greek musical theory; Pythagorean harmonics; musical theory

Chapter.  12510 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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