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Epistemology of Greek Harmonics

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DOI: 10.4236/ahs.2015.43014    3,665 Downloads   4,255 Views


Greek harmonics is the theory of the organization of notes with respect to the highness or lowness of their pitches. This was a mathematical science, a thorough knowledge of which was not necessary for the professional musician and was thus cultivated essentially by mathematicians and philosophers. For them, harmonics was mixed mathematics, the mix being between experimental assertions derived from hearing and propositions derived from reason, that was, mathematics. This classification was maintained through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Despite the important role played by harmonics in ancient science, little consideration has been given by historians of science. This study shows that harmonics merits a careful study and that its methods are the same as other sciences. Particular attention was devoted to Ptolemy who applied the same approach to harmonics as he did to astronomy, astrology and geography.

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Capecchi, D. (2015) Epistemology of Greek Harmonics. Advances in Historical Studies, 4, 155-171. doi: 10.4236/ahs.2015.43014.

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