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The Elements of Harmony of Aristoxenus: translation, notes, and an essay on comprehension and judgement of music

Grant number: 18/26392-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2019
Effective date (End): February 28, 2021
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature - Classical Languages
Principal researcher:Paula da Cunha Corrêa
Grantee:Nataly Ianicelli Cruzeiro
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The treatise Elements of Harmony by the Peripatetic Aristoxenus of Tarentum is remarkable for introducing new paradigms into the Greek musical thought, especially for its defence of the primacy of the perceptual phenomena to the detriment of the arithmetic when one apprehends the principles of the harmonics and analyses music. This fact allows Aristoxenus to reformulate the science of harmonics as an autonomous field related to the realm of mousiké, as Gibson (2005) argues. The problem of this dissertation emerges from a discussion brought up at the beginning of the treatise and more fully addressed in the second book (II,33-41) in which Aristoxenus emphasises the importance of understanding (suniénai) the melody in order to judge it. However, the way in which these concepts operate in the Aristoxenic thinking has been little discussed in the literature and therefore it is necessary to define what musical comprehension is and how it occurs in the realm of harmonics, namely whether if it includes solely the study notes' functions (dynámeis), as Aristoxenus says in II,33. 1-10, or whether it can include a further step in the musical analysis, that is, whether it informs musical judgement, such as the passages in II, 40.29-41.25 seem to suggest. If that is the case, one should still define what kind of judgement is performed in music and what are its criteria. Therefore, the aim of this work is, firstly, to produce a translation accompanied by notes of the treatise, which is still unpublished in Portuguese, and secondly, to present an essay on the concept of comprehension in music and how it is related to judgement and musical analysis, in order to contribute to the literature on Aristoxenus, which still lacks more specific studies on the author's thinking. (AU)

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