Greek Reflections on the Nature of Music

Greek Reflections on the Nature of Music


By (author) Flora R. Levin


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Paperback $30.44
  • Format: Hardback | 364 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 229mm x 28mm | 590g
  • Publication date: 1 May 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521518903
  • ISBN 13: 9780521518901
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: 10 b/w illus.

Product description

Flora Levin explores how and why music was so important to the ancient Greeks. She examines the distinctions that they drew between the theory of music as an art ruled by number and the theory wherein number is held to be ruled by the art of music. These perspectives generated more expansive theories, particularly the idea that the cosmos is a mirror-image of music's structural elements and, conversely, that music by virtue of its cosmic elements - time, motion, and the continuum - is itself a mirror-image of the cosmos. These opposing perspectives gave rise to two opposing schools of thought, the Pythagorean and the Aristoxenian. Levin argues that the clash between these two schools could never be reconciled. Her book shows how the Greeks' appreciation of the profundity of music's interconnections with philosophy, mathematics, and logic led to groundbreaking intellectual achievements that no civilisation has ever matched.

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Author information

Flora Levin is an independent scholar of the classical world. She is the author of two monographs on Nicomachus of Gerasa and has contributed to TAPA, Hermes and The New Grove Dictionary of Music.

Review quote

'This volume offers provocative interpretations of Aristoxenian music theory while providing a context in modern mathematics, philosophy, and musicology for the Aristoxenian and other schools of ancient music theory.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of contents

1. All deep things are song; 2. We are all Aristoxenians; 3. The discrete and the continuous; 4. Magnitudes and multitudes; 5. The topology of melody; 6. Aristoxenus of Tarentum and Ptolemais of Cyrene; 7. Aisthesis and Logos: a single continent; 8. The infinite and the infinitesimal.