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Mathiesen, Harmonia and Ethos in Ancient Greek Music

Mathiesen, Harmonia and Ethos in Ancient Greek Music

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Published by Giovanni
Source: The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Summer, 1984), pp. 264-279
Published by: University of California Press
Source: The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Summer, 1984), pp. 264-279
Published by: University of California Press

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Published by: Giovanni on Dec 21, 2010
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12/01/2014

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HARMONIA ANDETHOS INANCIENTGREEKMUSIC
THOMASJ.MATHIESEN
The
studyofancient Greek music hasheldthe interestofmodemschol-arshipsincetheRenaissance,when thewidelyattestedpowersof an-cientmusicbegantoattracttheattentionofanumber ofthehumanists.Fromtheveryfirst,twosubjectswithinthefield ofancientGreekmusicwereseen asespeciallytroublesome and weregivenparticularscrutiny.These are thesubjectsofharmonia and ethos.Thedifficultywiththesesubjectslies inpartinthe fact thatancientauthoritiesdisagreeamongthemselves,and ithasthereforeseemed thatthesubjectsmust remainfor-everinthe realm ofphilosophical dispute,eludingallattemptsatsyste-matization. This isnot tosaythat scholarsignoredthesubjects.Infact,there have been anumberofnotable worksdealingwith thesematters,
includingGirolamo Mei'sunpublishedDemodismusicisantiquorum(au-
tographinVaticanuslatinus5323)-datingfromthesixteenthcentury,thebeginningofmodemscholarshiponancientGreekmusic-and,more re-cently,studiesbyHermannWiegandt,A. F.Walter,HermannAbert,E.M.vonHornbostel,L. P.Wilkinson,JamesRiley,EdwardLippman,War-renAnderson,J.GarciaL6pez,and LukasRichter.1 Allthese worksareincisive and combine technicalremarksaboutmodes,scales,pitches,andsoon,withgeneralphilosophicaltreatmentsofmusic andcharacter,butnoneofthese-noranyoftheotherstudies thatmightbecited-attemptstosystematizethe ethicalcharacteristicsofancientGreek music orto showa closerelationshipbetween harmoniaand ethos.Nonetheless,it ispossibletodevelopand demonstrateareasonablyprecise systemfor theanalysisofthe ethos inpiecesofancient Greek music. ThissystemleansheavilyontheDemusicaofAristidesQuintilianus,whichunquestionablyprovidesthemost detailed andcomprehensiveancient treatmentofthesubjectsofhar-
'HermannWiegandt,"De ethicoantiquorumrhythmorumcharactereauctoreAristideQuintiliano"(Ph.D.diss.,Halle,1881);Anton FriedrichWalter,"Dieethisch-padagogischeWiirdigungderMusikdurch Plato undAristoteles,"VierteljahrsschriftfiirMusikwissenschaftVI(1890),388-415;HermannAbert,Die LehrevomEthos in dergriechischenMusik(Leipzig,1899:reprinted.,Tutzing,1968);Erich M. vonHornbostel,"Tonart undEthos,"FestschriftfirJohannesWolfzuseinemsechzigstenGeburtstag,ed. W.Lott,H.Osthoff,andW.Wolffheim(Berlin,1929),pp.73-78;L.P.Wilkinson,"PhilodemusonEthos inMusic,"ClassicalQuarterlyXXXII(1938),174-81;JamesRiley,"EthosinGreek Music"(M.M.thesis,College-Conservatoryof Music ofCincinnati,1948);EdwardLippman,MusicalThoughtinAncientGreece(NewYork,1964;reprinted.,NewYork,1975);WarrenAnderson,Ethos and Educationin GreekMusic(Cambridge,Mass.,1966);J.GarciaL6pez,"Sobreelvocabularioetico-musical delGriego,"Emerita,boletindelinguisticayfilologiacldsica XXXVII(1969),335-52;and LukasRichter,"AntikeasthetischeTheorienzurgesellschaftlichenFunktiondergriechischenTra-godie,"Diegriechische Tragodiein ihrergesellschaftlichenFunktion,ed.HeinrichKuch,Ver6ffent-lichungendes Zentralinstitutsfur Alte Geschichte undArchaologiederAkademiederWissenschaftenderDDR,XI(Berlin,1983),173-92.264
Source: The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 3, No. 3(Summer, 1984), pp. 264-279Published b : Universit  of California Press
 
HARMONIAANDETHOS IN ANCIENT GREEKMUSIC
moniaandethos,andwhichpullstogetherall the variousdisciplines-philosophy,harmonics,metrics,psychology,andcosmology-thatbearonthesesubjects.In order toexplainthesystem,it willbenecessaryfirsttotreat theconceptof harmonia.Thenotionofmimesis,especiallyasit is formulatedbyAristidesQuintilianusandthePlatonists,must then be reviewed. Withthis asbackground,theanalyticalsystemmaybe extractedfromthe treatiseof AristidesQuintilianusandappliedto threeearly fragmentsofancientGreek music.Somepreliminaryconclusions will thenemerge.
Harmonia
Afullandsystematicdiscussion ofthe term harmonia-even limitedtoits useinancient Greekmusictheory-wouldextend farbeyondthelimits of thispaper.Becausemydiscussions havealreadyappearedelse-where,2itwillbemostexpeditioustomake somestraightforwardstatementsabout harmoniathatwill benecessaryfor ourunderstandingof thelargersubjectsin view.Harmoniainancient Greekmusictheorymust be understoodon twolevels,dependingontheapproach(or,perhaps,on thesophistication)ofthe theorist. Theoristsprimarilyconcernedwith music as ananalogueforhigher philosophicaltruths conceive the harmoniaasmanifestingcertainbasicproportions,orders,and charactersmimetic ofhigheruniversals,evenwhenapplyingthetermto certain scalesorgenera,whichareseenasanalogues.This morecomprehensiveusageappearsin thetreatisesof Ar-istoxenus(e.g.,Harmonica1.2, 4,16,and26), [Ps.-]Plutarch(e.g.,Demusica 34[1143E]),Ptolemytosomedegree(e.g.,Harmonica3.3-7,10-11),andespeciallyAristidesQuintilianus(Demusica1.1, 3, 8,11-12, 19;2.4,6, 7, 12, 14, 16-17;and3.6, 9,12, 22,and27).Itmust bestressedthattheseusagesoccurinproximitytousagesoftermslikeenharmonios,tonos, eidos,tropos,and soon;thus,harmoniamaynot beconsidered asimplesynonymfortheseothertechnicalterms,thoughit doessubsumethesetechnicalconcepts.On the otherhand,theoristsrepresentingthe sec-ond-centuryrevivalofancienttheory(suchasCleonides andGaudentius)whoseem to have viewedmusicessentiallyas asystemratherthanas a"consortofphilosophy"-asAristidesQuintilianusrefers toit-tend toconcentrateon thelimited technicalsense ofharmonia,whileremainingaware(toagreaterorlesserdegree)of thelargerperspective.3
2ThomasJ.Mathiesen,"Problems ofTerminologyinAncientGreekTheory:'APMONiA,"Fes-tivalEssaysforPaulineAlderman,ed. BurtonKarson(Provo, 1976),3-17;andidem,AristidesQuin-tilianusonMusic in ThreeBooks,MusicTheoryTranslationSeries(New Haven,1983),pp.42-57.See also useful articlesbyKathleenSchlesinger,"TheHarmonia,"Music ReviewV(1944),7-39 and119-41;IsobelHenderson,"The Growthof the Greek&pJov(oaci."ClassicalQuarterlyXXXVI(1942),94-103;and OlofGignon,"Zum antikenBegriffderHarmonie,"StudiumgeneraleXIX(1966),539-47;andthe stillindispensablemonographofBonaventuraMeyer,APMONIA.Bedeutungsgeschichtedes WortesvonHomer bis Aristoteles(Ziirich, 1932).3Mathiesen,"Problems,"pp.3-4,17.265
 
THEJOURNALOF MUSICOLOGY
Itisthereforenecessarytokeepinmind whenstudyingancientGreekmusictheorythat a harmoniais nota harmonia.The samemaybesaid,bytheway,forsomeoftheother technical terms thatappearthroughouttheGreek theoretical tradition. Greekmusicaltheorists arenotseparatefromtheirphilosophicalortechnicalcontext,andtheir treatisesmust bestudiedinalargerintellectualcontext ifoneis tounderstandthem.Historiansofmusictheoryhave realizedthis formany yearsinconnection with termi-nologyinmedievalandRenaissancemusictheory,but the lessonhas beenall toorarelyappliedto ancient Greek musictheory.Harmoniainitsfullestsense,then,is aunificationofthingsthatappearon alower levelto be dissimilaror unrelatedorlackinginorder. Thissenseofthe termappearsclearlyinthePhaedo and TimaeusofPlato,inPolitica8.5(1340b18-19)andDeanima1.4 ofAristotle,inPlutarch'sDeanimaeprocreationeinTimaeo,andinthe musicaltreatises aswell,forinstancein AristidesQuintilianusDe musica3.6.Thus,tochoose threeexamples.theoctave is a harmonia(cf.AristidesQuintilianusDemusica1.8;2.12).aproportionlike2:4:8(whichmayalsoproduceoctaves)isa harmonia(cf.AristidesQuintilianusDe musica3.6),anda tonosisaharmonia(cf.Aris-tidesQuintilianusDe musica1.10;2.14).Each oftheseprovidesa unifi-cationand an order for lower level entitiessuch asdissimilarnumbers,groupsofnotes,orrhythmic patterns.From thisdefinition,it shouldbeeasyto see twothings:(1)how lesssophisticatedtheorists(andsome mod-emcommentators)beganto think of tonosandoctavespeciesassynony-mous withharmonia,and(2)while anoctave,aproportion,ora tonosareharmoniai,theconverseis not true:harmoniais not anoctave,aproportion,ora tonos.Giventhisgeneraldefinitionforharmonia,itwillnot besurprisingtodiscover that the termisalso usedin connection withcosmology,ethics,metaphysics,and other branchesofGreekphilosophy.Moreover,thetermoftenappearsinpassageswheremusicalparallelsareexplicit,as for in-stancein thePhaedo,noted above.Thisisimportantbecause itmightotherwise beassumedthat the termisbeingusedmetaphoricallyor atleastin a sense unrelatedto music.Butifharmoniaas aconceptmightrelatedivergentbranchesinGreekphilosophy,itmaybepossibleto discover howthat much-vauntedpowerof ancientGreekmusic-theabilitytoconveyandaffectethos-actuallyworked.Infact,thisrelationshipofdivergentphilosophicalbranchesthroughharmoniais oneofthe central features ofthe treatiseofAristidesQuintilianus,4and the treatiseprovidesa means fordistillingasystemtoanalyzethe ethicalqualityofacomposition.
AristidesQuintilianusandPlatonicnotionsofmimesis
The treatiseofAristidesQuintilianusisquiteunlikeotherancientGreekmusical treatisesin that it is not a technicalwork butratheranelaborate
4This matterisdiscussedatlengthinmyIntroductionto AristidesQuintilianus,pp.14-57.266

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