A Re-Valuation of the Ancient Science of Harmonics

  title={A Re-Valuation of the Ancient Science of Harmonics},
  author={L. Crickmore},
  journal={Psychology of Music},
  pages={391 - 403}
  • L. Crickmore
  • Published 1 October 2003
  • Psychology
  • Psychology of Music
Harmonics was the theoretical arithmetic underpinning the tuning of musical instruments in ancient times. It was a numerical science based on ratios of string-length. The ancients believed that the planets circled the heavens in similar mathematical proportions, and that, by analogy, these also corresponded to powers in the human psyche. Harmonics survived as such until the 17th century. Only recently, however, have musicologists made a breakthrough to a more comprehensive understanding of its… 

Figures from this paper

The musicality of Plato
A certain passage in the eighth book of Plato's Republic has been described as 'notoriously the most difficult in his writings'. This article offers a commentary on the passage, in the light of
The Evolution of Musicality: What Can Be Learned from Language Evolution Research?
This work focuses on the value of coupled empirical and formal methodologies, and on the futility of mysterianism, the declining view that the nature, origins and evolution of language cannot be addressed empirically.
A possible Mesopotamian origin for Plato's World Soul
In the introduction to the Loeb translation of Plato's Timaeus,1 R. G. Bury notes: 'The primary operation of the Demiurge is to construct the World Soul. In his description of this process, Plato
Octave Bias in Pitch Perception: The Influence of Pitch Height on Pitch Class Identification
Pitch height showed to influence pitch class identification, and was called “pitch class polarization”, since the same pitch class was judged to be respectively lower and higher, depending on relatively low or high pitch height.
Pitch chroma discrimination, generalization, and transfer tests of octave equivalence in humans
Training in music weakly hindered octave generalization but moderately facilitated both positive and negative transfer, and found that the pattern of responding developed by discrimination training in Octave 4 generalized to Octave 5.


Ptolemy Harmonics: Translation and Commentary
Ptolemy's comprehensive treatises on astronomy and geography were influential for nearly two millennia. Equally influential was his treatise on harmonics, the ancient science which combined and
Music, Mind and Evolution
The re-emergence of an evolutionary perspective on the human mind over the last decade has resulted in the production of a range of different theories about music's evolutionary origins. Some writers
The Harmony of the spheres : a sourcebook of the Pythagorean tradition in music
Godwin traces the history of the idea, held since ancient times, that the whole cosmos, with its circling planets and stars, is in some way a musical or harmonious entity. The author shows how this
Pythagorean Paper Folding: A Study in Tuning and Temperament.
IN TUNING the tones of a scale the ear wrestles with some fascinating prob lems concerning vibration ratios. This paper describes a convenient method for displaying to the eye the mathematical
Music and Meaning: An Evolutionary Story
The literature on the evolution of music is quite sparse, and the topic is often mentioned only in passing as part of larger proposals concerning the origin of language and the emergence of modem
Music, Mysticism and Magic: A Sourcebook
This is a historical study of music contending that it is a powerful agent for self transformation, for the healing of body and soul and for awakening the spirit within. The collection reflects the
The Euclidean Division of the canon : Greek and Latin sources : new critical texts and translations on facing pages, with an introduction, annotations, and indices verborum and nominum et rerum
The "Division of the Canon" is an ancient Pythagorean treatise on the relationship between mathematical and acoustical truths. Euclidean in style, sectional in nature, and essentially Pythagorean,
The manual of harmonics of Nicomachus the Pythagorean
Fundamentals of Music, translation from Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
  • 1989