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Those who study ancient Greek music theory have traditionally viewed Aristoxenus as an irreconcilable opponent of the Pythagoreans.' The chief differences ostensibly lay in the contrasting approaches to music: the Pythagorean~ used music as a model of numerical reality and as an expression of philosophical tmth, while Aristoxenus was the empiricist whose theory of music was nothing more than a systematization of musical sound. Because of the close relationship assumed between Aristoxenian theory and the music of his day, Aristoxenus's Harmonics has been considered fundamentally an empirical compendium. The late Norman Cazden, at the beginning of his attempt to reconcile the two view points, wrote: The Pythagorean and Aristoxenian viewpoints have represented poles of fundamental and irreconcilable conflict for some two thousand years. Pythagoras regards relationships among musical tones as manifestations of abstract number, signifying a pervasive cosmic principle. Aristoxenos ascribes the ordering of musical tones to the judgment of the ear, contingent therefore on mundane musical practice and its history2 Ingemar Diiring observed that Aristoxenus's "theory of music is revolutionary. It rests on the fundamental principle that the human ear is the sole arbiter of the correctness of pitches and harmonic function^."^ Reginald P.
Winnington-Ingram in his treatment of Aristoxenus puts it most succinctly of all: 'Aristoxenus claims to trust his ear and to represent the facts of practical music. "4 Although there is some truth in these characterizations of Aristoxenus's theory, two major discussions in his Harmonics indicate that his treatise may not be as closely connected with musical practice as is generally thought. In order to suggest a more complete view of Aristoxenus's actual theoretical method, this study will investigate the nature of his theory through an examination of (1) his discussion of the various genera and their realization in musical terms, (2) the relationship between Aristoxenus and equal temperament, (3) his proof that a fourth is comprised of two-and-onehalf tones, and (4) the philosophical background of his theory.
THE GENERA. A leading concept in Greek music theory is that of the genera, and Aristoxenus describes the genera in his Harmonics 1.21-27.5 By definition, each tetrachord of the Greek theoretical system had two notes of fixed pitch and two notes whose pitch was flexible. The fixed pitches were a perfect fourth apart and formed the outer boundaries of the tetrachord. The other two pitches could vary according to the genus employed. Figure 1 illustrates the three principal possibilities. The enharmonic genus is composed of two quarter-tones with a ditone to complete the fourth. The chromatic genus is composed of two semitones with a tone and a half to complete the fourth. The diatonic genus is composed of a semitone and a tone with another tone to complete the fourth? This terminology of tone and semitone is only approximate. The size of these intervals, whether expressed with ratios (the Pythagoreans' method) or with units of musical sound (Aristoxenus's method), was a major topic of speculation and controversy. Many authors described tunings that differed slightly one from another, although all solutions maintained the basic format. Ptolemy, writing some 500 years later than Aristoxenus, preserved several authors' presentations of this subject in his Harmonics, as well as presenting several of his own solution^.^ Unlike the Pythagorean theorists, Aristoxenus did not use ratios to define the loci or positions of the moveable notes within the tetrachord. Instead, he postulated a potentially infinite continuum of musical pitchs within which a specific segment represented the fourth. Aristoxenus indicated that this perfect fourth comprised two-and-one-half tones, and he then used quarter-, third-, and half-tones to indicate the various loci? Unlike most Pythagorean theorists, Aristoxenus also defined several shades of the genera. These shades are tunings in which the positions of the moveable notes are slightly different from the basic definitions of the genera. In theory, Aristoxenus allowed any number of shadings for the chromatic and
tone tone plus semitone ditone tone semtione quarter tone semitone quarter tone semitone
Figure 1: The Genera Used in Ancient Greek Music
diatonic genera; nevertheless, he specifically defined only three for the chromatic genus and two for the diatonic.10 Cleonides, an author of the second century A.D. who followed the Aristoxenian tradition, devised a simpler method for expressing Aristoxenus's tunings.ll He divided the segment of pitch continuum that equals a perfect fourth into thirty equal units. This is a simple extension of Aristoxenus's concept of a twelfth of a tone.I2The location of each moveable pitch is then expressed by a number of units between each pitch." Figure 2 graphically shows each shade described by Aristoxenus, as elaborated by Cleonides. It is clear that this approach in defining the various is based in geometric logic.14 This geometric arrangement, however, cannot be empirically derived, and this is the crux. The only way to reproduce Aristoxenus's tunings in terms of actual pitches (a problem that did not concern him) is to use more sophisticated mathematics than were available to Aristoxenus. The process is as follows. Take a certain segment of musical pitch and mark off the distance of a fourth-bounded by, for example, 330 cycles per second and 440 cps.15 It is possible to obtain a number that, when multiplied bv the lower frequency thirty times, will produce the higher frequency. The intervening points will be equidistant acoustically and will result in thirty equal musical divisions of the fourth, just as Aristoxenus implies (and is made explicit in C l e ~ n i d e s ) ? ~ constant is w 3 or 1.0096355.17The That procedure and results are illustrated in Figure 3.18 The ratio between any two of these adjacent points will be equal to the ratio between any other two adjacent points, proving the musical intervals to be acoustically identical. In other words, the musical space (geometrically conceived) is identical between increments. It is now a relatively simple matter to chart Aristoxenian tunings with specific pitch frequencies (see Figure 4). By using an electronic instrument capable of selecting pitch, it is also possible to hear and compare the various general9-an activity not possible for Aristoxenus. Using the mathematics available to him, Aristoxenus could never have represented the precise pitches indicated by his various tunings using numerals and ratios.20 Because this was the only precise method available to the ancients of specifying without any doubt the specific sizes of intervals (and, by consequence, relative pitches), it is clear that Aristoxenus never could aurally demonstrate the precise locations of the pitches or the exact size of the intervening intervals he posited. Aristoxenus's geometric conception of pitch does not translate to geometric divisions on a string. It is impossible to divide a string into thirty parts so that the sonic intervals are equal. Strings (like columns of air) function in a manner different from Aristoxenus's theoretical and geometrically based pitch continuum. Moreover, even if Aristoxenus had heard these exact shadings in performed music (certainly a doubtful conjecture),21 it would be impossible for him to isolate the exact pitches and devise a method for measuring the precise dis-
Procedure: 330.00 333.18 336.39 etc, to 435.80
x 1.0096355 = 333.18 cps
x 1.0096355 = 336.39 cps x 1.0096355 = 339.63 cps
x 1.0096355 = 440.00 cps
370.25 373.81 377.41 381.05 384.72 388.43 392.17 395.97 399.77 403.62 407.51 41 1.43 415.40 419.40 423.44 427.52 43 1.64 435.80 440.00
The 30 divisions thus derived from 330 cps to 440 cps are: 330.00 (cps) 333.18 336.39 339.63 342.90 346.21 349.54 352.91 356.31 359.75 363.21 366.71
Figure 3: Procedure and Results of Dividing a Perfect Fourth into Thirty Equal Parts
The Shades of the Genera Defined by Aristoxenus Expressed Figure 4: in Cycles per Second
tances between them. Aristoxenus's concept is thus revealed as abstract; it could not be aurally demonstrated nor empirically derived.
ARISTOXENUS AND EQUAL TEMPERAMENT. Aristoxenus's Harmonics is not the only ancient treatise that presents the Aristoxenian method of defining the various genera. Cleonides and Aristides Quintilianus are two other authors who present Aristoxenus's ideas intact (though perhaps refined)?2 Ptolemy also accurately reports Aristoxenus's tuning~ his prose?' in though Ptolemy's treatise seems to be the source of the widely held but incorrect association of Aristoxenus and equal temperament of the octave. the In During's edition and translation of Ptolemy's t r e a t i ~ e ? ~ discussion of genera is accompanied by tables illustrating the various genera in string lengths. The tables are not limited to Aristoxenian tunings but include those by Didymus, Archytas, Eratosthenes, and Ptolemy. It is important to note that even though the tables appear in editions of Ptolemy as early as 1682?5the earliest extant manuscript sources of the treatise do not have these tablesJ6 Most early manuscripts have some sort of table in them, but only one of those prior to the fifteenth century corresponds exactly to the tables in During's ediThe t i ~ n . ~ ' tables, however, do not accurately represent Aristoxenus's view, even though they are widely assumed to be accurate. Moreover, it is quite possible, in view of the discrepancy between Ptolemy's prose and the tables, that the tables are not the work of Ptolemy at all but rather one of his redactors?g An excerpt from these tables that shows various tunings for the diatonic genus, taken from During's translation of Ptolemy, appears in Figure 5. In this table, the divisions of the genera are shown in octaves rather than fourths. This is a significant departure from pure Aristoxenian thought; nowhere in Aristoxenus's treatise does he attempt to provide tunings for an octaveJ9 Nevertheless, in the "Ptolemaic" tables, two disjunct tetrachords are presented with a whole tone (a 9:8 tone) of disjunction. It is easy to assume that this tone of disjunction is equal to twelve parts of a perfect fourth, just like a so-called tone within a fourth. The problem does not arise in Aristoxenus's treatise, however, because (1) as mentioned, he does not place the tunings within the framework of an octave and, hence, (2) he does not consider what the relative size might be for a tone of disjunction between two tetrachords nor (3) does he make any relationship-musical or otherwise-between a tone defined as twelve thirtieths of a fourth and a tone defined as the difference between a perfect fourth and perfect fifth.30 If an understanding of Aristoxenus is colored by the "Ptolemaic" tables, a curious situation arises. Assuming (erroneously) that a tone of disjunction might equal twelve parts, Aristoxenus's intense diatonic might be interpreted as: twelve parts, twelve parts, and six parts in one tetrachord, twelve parts for the tone of disjunction, twelve parts, twelve parts, and six parts for the second tetrachord. The tone of disjunction is incorrectly assumed
to be equal in size to twelve parts within a tetrachord yet large enough so that two tetrachords plus this tone of disjunction equal a perfect octave-a contradiction and impossibility." If one calls twelve parts "tone" and six parts "semitone," the scale of tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semiIt tone is p r o d u ~ e d ? ~appears from this pattern, which is based on conflicting definitions of the term "tone," that the octave is thus divided into twelve equal semitones. Despite the many distortions of Aristoxenus's actual theory required to make these false connections, theorists ancient and modem have done so. In his Dialogo della musica antica et della moderna of 1581, Vincenzo Galilei associated Aristoxenus with the equal-tempered tuning used on the lute. Galilei believed that Aristoxenus "divided the five tones and two minor semitones which contain in themselves the species of the diapason which served the Dorian mode into twelve equal parts. . . ."33 Giovanni Maria Artusi is another theorist who clearly associated equal temperament with Ari~toxenus.3~ In the nineteenth century, scholars still believed Aristoxenus to be the originator of equal temperament of the octave. Rudolf Westphal wrote: Die neure Musik muss, wenn sie reine Octaven (1:2) haben will, fast iiberall die temperirten Quinten, Quarten und Terzen anwenden. Eine solche Musik mit temperirter Scala ist es, welch Aristoxenus fiir die Leser seiner Harmonik fiir die Zuhijrer seiner Vorlesungen voraus~etzt?~ In the twentieth century, Diiring has proposed that 'Aristoxenus rejected the Pythagorean doctrine and divided the octave in what he believed to be twelve equal semitones, a bold theory advanced more than two thousand years before the equal temperament was introduced in European music."36 J. Murray Barbour, in his well-known survey of tunings and temperaments, agrees: "if we are to take him at his word, Aristoxenus was here describing equal temperament. "37 A close examination of Aristoxenus's theories offers no evidence to support the notion of an equal-tempered octave. It has been shown that Aristoxenus referred only to the fourth in discussing the genera. No attempt was made to expand this to the octave. No consonant interval was shown or implied to be tempered. Moreover, no ancient author has described Aristoxenus's ideas in such a way that they seem to indicate equal temperament. Not until the Renaissance was the false connection with equal temperament made. Furthermore, because Aristoxenus's turnings could not be empirically derived or aurally demonstrated, it must remain unknown to what degree Aristoxenus's musical geometry represented real tunings used by ancient musicians.38Aristoxenus's concept of the genera is only that: an abstract concept, not an empirically derived measurement.
TWO-AND-ONE-HALF TONES EQUAL A FOURTH. Just as Aristoxenus's description of the loci within the genera is speculative, his proof that two-and-one-half tones make up a fourth also appears, on close exarnination, to be speculative in character. An understanding of this proof is dependent on a clear understanding of the terms used, specifically his definition of the fourth, fifth, and tone. Because Aristoxenus did not use ratios to describe these intervals, some believe he was referring to approximate or tempered intervals. A clear reading of his treatise however shows that he understood the same perfect intervals that the Pythagoreans had defined. Aristoxenus defines the fourth in his treatise as the smallest possible concord. "We assume then eight magnitudes of concords; the smallest, the Fourth-determined as smallest by the abstract nature of melody; for while we can produce several smaller intervals, they are all discords; . . ."3g Aristoxenus does not define this interval with a ratio but says that the ear should be able to recognize the interval, apparently without any extraneous help:
we find that while the concords either have no locus of variation, and are definitely determined to one magnitude, or have an inappreciable locus, this definiteness is to be found in a much lesser degree in discords. For this reason, the ear is much more assured of the magnitudes of the concords than the discordsPO He further states that the knowledge of consonant intervals is "what we have learned from our predecessors; . . ."41 The only musical interval that meets all three criteria is the perfect fourth defined by others with the ratio 4:3. This interval is the smallest consonance, sounds consonant to an unaided ear, and had been so defined by Aristoxenus's predecessors (notably the Pythagoreans). It is clear that no kind of tempered fourth could meet all three criteriaP2 Defining the tone is somewhat more problematic despite Aristoxenus's precise definition: 'A tone is the excess of the Fifth over the Fourth; . . ."43 The fifth was described by Aristoxenus as the second smallest consonant interval that the ear can recognize unaided and as the interval already defined by his predecessorsP4 This can only be a 3:2 fifth. Consequently, the tone is defined as a 9:8 whole tone, the excess of 3:2 over 4:3. Yet in describing the genera, Aristoxenus seems to imply that a tone is equal to twelve thirtieths of a fourth, which does not equal a 9:8 toneP5 Aristoxenus never addressed this discrepancy in his treatise; perhaps this practical inconsistency did not bother him-yet another instance that shows Aristoxenus's treatise to be speculative rather than empirical. Nevertheless, it seems that Aristoxenus meant to prove that a perfect fourth was comprised of twoand-one-half 9:8 whole tones, for this is the only definition of the tone given
clearly (the musical space of twelve thirtieths of a fourth is only implied to be a tone). In fact, later theorists, such as Ptolemy and Boethius, did understand Aristoxenus to mean 9:8 whole tonesP6 With a clear sense of the definitions for these terms now in mind, Aristoxenus's proof that twoand-one-half tones make up a fourth may be examined. In Harmonics 2.56-57, Aristoxenus states: The surest method of verifying our original assumption that the Fourth consists of two and a half tones is the following. Let us take such an interval, and let us find the discord of two tones above its lower note, and the same discord below its higher note. Evidently the complements will be equal, since they are remainders obtained by subtracting equals from equals. Next let us take the Fourth above the lower note of the higher ditone, and the Fourth below the higher note of the lower ditone. It will be seen that adjacent to each of the extreme notes of the scale thus obtained there will be two complements in juxtaposition, which must be equal for the reasons already given. This construction completed, we must refer the extreme notes thus determined to the judgement of the ear. If they prove discordant, plainly the Fourth will not be composed of two and a half tones; and just as plainly it will be so composed, if they form a Fifth. For the lowest of theassumed notes is, by construction, a Fourth of the higher boundary of the lower ditone; and it has now turned out that the highest of the assumed notes forms with the lowest of them the concord of the Fifth. Now as the excess of the latter interval over the former is a tone, and as it is here divided into two equal parts; and as each of these equal parts which is thus proved to be a semitone is at the same time the excess of the Fourth over a ditone, it follows that the Fourth is composed of five semitones. It will be readily seen that the extremes of our scale cannot form any concord except a FifthP7 The proof is attractive and easily conceptualized (see Figure 6)P8 Given a certain segment of Aristoxenus's continuum of musical sound, the distance bounded by points A and B represent a perfect fourth. This interval is consonant by definition and is described by other theorists as the ratio 4:3. This fourth may appear anywhere-high or low-in the continuum of pitch. C represents a pitch two tones lower than B; D represents a pitch two tones higher than A. Since the same interval is subtracted from the original fourth, Aristoxenus observes that the complements must be equal. Therefore, the musical space AC must equal DB. E represents a pitch a perfect fourth lower than D; F represents a pitch a perfect fourth higher than C. The interval E F is then sounded and observed aurally to be consonant. Since it is larger than a fourth but smaller than an octave, E F must be a fifth, since this is by definition the only consonant interval between the fourth and octave. This step must be verified by ear. Since ED is a fourth by definition and E F is said to be a fifth by observation, the difference D F must by definition be a tone. It is observed that the pitch B divides the tone
Figure 6: Geometric Representation of Aristoxenus's Proof that a Fourth is Composed of Two and One-Half Tones
DF exactly in half, resulting in two intervals which must be half tones. The original fourth AB is comprised of a ditone, AD, and a half tone, DB. Despite this clarity, in arithmetic terms, two-and-one-half tones do not equal a fourth, as is well known and as was constantly observed by Aristoxenus's detractors in ancient times:
The fourth is actually smaller than the sum of two-and-one-half t0nes.5~ The flaws of Aristoxenus's geometric conception are twofold and related (see Figure 6): (1) EF actually is not a perfect fifth and, hence, (2) DF is not a full 9:8 whole tone. Nevertheless, B does divide DF in half, which demonstrates the reality that musical intervals can be divided exactly in two?' Regardless of these calculations -arithmetic or geometric -Aristoxenus intimates in his treatise that the final arbiter in musical matters must be the ear? Accordingly, his proof should be executed on a rnonoch0rd.5~ Because a ditone can be measured by alternately ascending a fifth and descending a fourth, it is possible to execute the entire proof using the ear al0ne.5~ Presumably, Aristoxenus would prefer not to resort to measurements, or other such non-musical tools, in keeping with his general emphasis on the senses. Each The results of this method ~ a r y . 5 ~ time it is applied, certain small errors naturally occur in various places (depending on the skill of one's ear), yielding a different sounding fifth every time. In general, the fifth sounds small, although depending on how many and how large the errors may be, the fifth can sound perfect. This approximate perfection is the exception and not the rule. The crux of this proof is whether the fifth is a full perfect fifth. In concept, there is no reason to admit this interval as anything but a fifth; in practice, however, it does not sound like a fifth. Had Aristoxenus performed this proof, he would surely have heard the discrepancy, as would any other musician used to manipulating the monochord. Nevertheless, the discrepancy between theory and practice appears not to have bothered Aristoxenus. He changed nothing in his treatise because of it. The theory is not borne out by the practice, nor does the practice yield the theory. Aristoxenus's concept as he left it neither accommodates nor reflects musical reality. Perhaps he never performed the proof or simply felt the results to be close enough. If either were the case, it would be clear that accuracy in practice was not a major concern to Aristoxenus. Thus, the con-
cept alone must have been Aristoxenus's concern, and he appears not as an empiricist but as a conceptualist or conceptual i d e a l i ~ t ? ~
ARISTDXENUS THE PHILOSOPHER. Later theorists commented on and this mathematical error in Aristoxenus. Euclid?' P t ~ l e m y ? ~ BoethiuP9 all offer proof why a fourth cannot equal two-and-one-half tones. Regino of Priim60and Hucbald61 are examples of later authors who continue to state as a matter of course that a superparticular ratio (such as 9:8) cannot be divided into two equal parts, thereby dismissing Aristoxenus and his theories. It is natural to wonder why an incisive musician-theorist like Aristoxenus would allow the obvious mathematical errors seen in his proof that the fourth is made up of two-and-one-half tones into his theoretical system. It is hardly reasonable to assume that these errors were an oversight on his part or that they resulted from ignorance. Evidently, the errors had little to do with Aristoxenus's purpose in writing the Harmonics. Were his purpose to write a practical manual of music, these errors would be crucial, and in all likelihood corrected. Since these errors were not corrected, he must have had some other purpose. A consideration of the nature of Aristoxenus's Harmonics must take into account his life and intellectual position. Aristoxenus was a significant follower of Aristotle. His position among this group led him to be considered for a time as Aristotle's successor at the Lyceum in AthensP2 That he did not ultimately obtain the position does not alter the impression that he was a leading proponent of Aristotelian thought. In the tenth-century lexicon, Suda, it is reported that Aristoxenus wrote 453 works on such topics as "educational and political theory, Pythagorean doctrine, biographies, miscellanies and memoranda of various kinds"63 in addition to his works on music. Even if this number were exaggeratedp4 it is clear from the extant fragments that he did in fact write on numerous subjectsP5 His knowledge must have been wide and varied, and he followed Aristotle's example in treating many different subjects as the method for obtaining true knowledge. Louis Laloy, in his monograph on Aristoxenus, explains this basic goal of Aristotelianism:
Cambition de l'aristotClisme ttait, on le sait, de ressaisir dans ses manifestations multiples la realit6 que I'idCalisme platonicien laissait echapper de toutes parts, et d'6lCver la philosophie au faite d'un Cchafaudage immense d'ktudes particulitres: sciences physiques, sciences naturelles, sciences morales et politiques, tels devaient &re les degrCs qui conduiraient l'esprit & une notion de plus en plus haute, plus vraie, plus compltte et plus concrtte, de l'existence, c'est-&-dire de la vie, c'est-8-dire de lPme, c'est-8-dire, en dernitre analyse, de la pensee, realite premitre et demitre, forme suprsme de toute matitreP6
Aristoxenus was a philosopher who undertook the study of many subjects in order to reach a higher level of understanding and, ultimately, of living. Because of music's elevated status in Athenian society, Aristoxenus naturally included the subject among his studies. Music was a significant subject in Greek educationp7 and the topic was addressed by many of the philosophers, including Plato and AristotleP8 It seems that practical music making also played an important role in Aristoxenus's early education. His first teachers included his father Spinthams and Lampms of ErythraeP9 In addition to this type of musical education, he was trained in the theory of music as espoused and taught by his teacher in Athens, Xenophilus (a Pyt h a g ~ r e a n )Thus it is only reasonable that later in life Aristoxenus would .~~ return to this subject in which he was so well versed-practically and theoretically-and examine it using the new Aristotelian method of critical enquiry, in which he was also well versed. Aristoxenus was a philosopher whose basic purpose was to study all science (including but not restricted to music). He was not, however, necessarily interested in the actual phenomena of each science; rather, he was interested in the theory. In Topics 6.6(145a15), Aristotle identifies three kinds of knowledge: poetical (or productive) sciences, practical sciences, and theoretical (or speculative) sciences. These are listed in order of importance. The difference between the various types of sciences lies in the purpose of each?' Poetical sciences deal with phenomena-cause and effect, in which a performance (or phenomenon) leads to the desired effect or goal. This is the lowest level of science. Practical sciences have as the object of study the actual performance of a given task. Theoretical sciences, however, need no physical manifestation to be studied. "The division named Theoretical comprises intelligence alone-intelligence of principia, causes and constituent elements."72These sciences depend on contemplation alone and are not concerned with phenomena per se: "if there is something which is eternal and immovable and separable, clearly the knowledge of it belongs to a theoretical science. . . ."73 Theoretical sciences are the highest and goal of all. Music may be viewed on any of these levels, depending upon the circumMusic used to heal the sick or change the actions of someone75 stance~?~ is a poetical science. Music is here used to accomplish some result other than the performance of music. By contrast, learning how to use an instmment, that is, the study of its performance, is a practical science. Contemplating music and constructing a theoretical system of music is a theoretical science. Nothing more than the mind is needed. Recourse to the sonic phenomena is superfluous and perhaps even undesirable. Aristides Quintilianus wrote that physical, earthly phenomena are "defective, maimed, and troublesome, not through the cause of the doer, but through the disorder and debility of matter."76 More specifically, music "by its mixture with bodily matter falls away from its precision and excellence in numbers, since at least
in the region above us [i.e. not earth], it is strict and in~orruptible."~~ Aristoxenus, as a leading Peripatetic and heir apparent to Aristotle, would have been most interested in pursuing theoretical sciences. His desire would be to pursue a theoretical life, one independent of phenomena. Thus his writings are theoretical treatises rather than practical manuals:78 the product of a contemplation of music (systematizing and subduing it) transcending the practical in music, which was connected with physical manifestations. Aristoxenus's Harmonics, viewed as a theoretical treatise, is much more consistent and persuasive. It is not primarily concerned with practical music, although this is the foundation of the study. Aristoxenus used an empirical method for evolving and explaining his theories, but the conclusions remain abstract, ideal, and conceptual. It is ironic that the Pythagorean~' theories with the constant recourse to physical sound turn out to be more empirical than Aristoxenus's theories. His proof that a perfect fourth is made up of two-and-one-half tones cannot be based on practice. Yet the concept is perfectly successful and tremendously advanced in its application of geometric logic to music. His demonstration of the loci of the genera could not be readily performed or empirically derived. Yet the concept is very clear and makes a fundamental advance in its observation of function over the earlier theorists. Although the importance of Aristoxenus's Harmonics cannot rightly be said to lie in its practical description of Greek music, the treatise remains highly significant. Aristoxenus's treatise is the first comprehensive theory of music that is self-contained. All aspects of music are explored and none is considered superfluous. Musical terms are defined in musical ways, rather than by superimposing extra-musical associations. He used new geometric considerations together with a new philosophical approach to formulate the first comprehensive, tight, and highly organized science of music. In light of this tremendous achievement, his derogatory remarks about the harmonicists who would only study certain elements of music (particularly the magnitude of intervals and composition of various scales) while completely disregarding others (such as the function of the various pitches in relationship to the other pitches) are understandable?9 Later authors emulated Aristoxenus's approach in considering music. While the Greek authors such as Cleonides and Aristides Quintilianus continued to treat theoretical music, medieval authors began to turn their attention away from the speculative to the practical. ~egardless whether these subsequei~t authors were treating theory or practice, Aristoxenus provided the model for treating music as a self-contained subject, analyzing the elements both in definition and function and showing relationships among the various parts. Aristoxenus's importance in the history of music theory remains highly significant.
1. This view is at least as old as Ptolemy's account of Greek music. The importance of Boethius's treatise insured that this view continued in the western world. 2. Norman Cazden, "Pythagoras and Aristoxenos Reconciled," Journal of the American Musicological Society 11 (1958): 97. 3. Ingemar During, "Greek Music: Its Fundamental Features and Its Significance," Journal of World History 3 (1956): 319. 4. Reginald P. Winnington-Ingram, 'Rristoxenus and the Intervals of Greek Music,"
Classical Quarterly 26 (1932): 200.
Passages descriptive of these seemingly opposing schools could easily be multiplied. See also Henry Macran, 7he Harmonics of Arisroxenus (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902; reprint ed., Hildesheim: Olms, 1974), pp. 87-89; Isobel Henderson, "Ancient Greek Music," Ancient and Oriental Music, ed. Egon Wellesz, New Oxford History of Music, 1 (London: Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 336. 5. Translated into English in Macran, pp. 179-84. 6. An expanded discussion can be found in Henderson, pp. 344-48. 7. Ptolemy Harmonica 2.14. No complete English translation is presently available, but a German translation can be found in Ingemar During, Ptolemaios und Porphyrios iiber die Musik, Giiteborgs, Hiigskolas Rrsskrift, 4011 (Giiteborg: Elanders, 1934; reprint ed., Ancient Philosophy, 11, New York: Garland, 1980), pp. 85-88. 8. Aristoxenus Harmonica 1.14-15 (Macran, pp. 175-76). Aristoxenus recognized that instruments and voices had limits within themselves preventing the pitch continuum from extending infinitely in either direction on those instruments. "Whether, regarding the constitution of melody in the abstract, we are bound to admit such an infinite progress, is a question . . . we shall accordingly reserve . . . for a later occasion" (Aristoxenus Har. 1.15 [Macran, p. 1751). This question is never further addressed in the Harmonics as we know it today. It is reasonable to assume that he would admit an infinite progress since he compares pitch to a geometric line (Aristoxenus Har. 1.13 [Macran, p. 1741)and all lines in geometry are potentially infinite. Compare also Aristoxenus's definition of interval: "an interval is a difference between points of pirch, a space potentially admitting notes higher than the lower of the two points of pitch which bound the interval, and lower than the higher of them" (Aristoxenus Har. 1.15 [Macran, p. 176, italics mine]). Notice again the geometric conception of lines and points of pitch on that line. Furthermore, in discussing concord, Aristoxenus notes that if an octave is added to any concord, "the sum is a concord. From this point of view, then, there is no maximum concord" (Aristoxenus, Har. 1.20 [Macran, p. 1791). He goes on to specify that for voices and instruments, there is a maximum concord, on account of the inherent limit of pitch. The only way there could be (potentially) no maximum concord is if the continuum of pitch were (potentially) infinite. 9. Aristoxenus Har. 1.25, 2.56 (Macran, pp. 182-83, 207). 10. In Har. 1.22-23, Aristoxenus postulated that the locus of the lichanos is a tone and that the locus of the parhypate is a quarter-tone. Theoretically, these pitches can lie anywhere within the specified region. Specific discussion of the various shades appears in Har. 1.24-27, 2.46-52 (Macran, pp. 182-85, 199-204). 11. Cleonides lntroductio harmonica 6-7. For an English translation, see Oliver S t ~ n k , ed. Source Readings in Music History (New York: Norton, 1950), pp. 38-40; Jon
Solomon, "Cleonides' Isagoge harmonike: Critical Edition, Translation and Comrnentary" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1980), pp. 15152. 12. A twelfth of a tone is the difference between a third-tone and a quarter-tone (see Aristoxenus Har. 1.25 [Macran, pp. 182-831). Cleonides simply postulated twelve parts for each of the two-and-one-half tones in a fourth and arrived at the number thirty (12 + 12 + 6 = 30). 13. It must be stressed that there is no correlation whatsoever between this geometric conception of equal units of pitch and divisions of a musical string. String divisions (used extensively by later authors such as Boethius) are in fact never used by Aristoxenus or Aristoxenian theorists. 14. See Richard L. Crocker, "Aristoxenus and Greek Mathematics," Aspects of Medieval and Renaissance Music: A BirrMay wering to Gustave Reese, ed. Jan LaRue (New York: Norton, 1966), pp. 96-110. 15. A perfect fourth with the ratio 4:3. Although Aristoxenus never specifically defined the fourth using ratios, it is not unreasonable to assume he meant this perfect consonance (rather than some sort of tempered fourth). This argument will be addressed later in the paper in connection with the discussion of dividing the fourth into two-andone-half tones. , 16. Aristoxenus Har. 1.25 (Macran, pp. 182-83); Cleonides Inrro. 7 ( S t ~ n kpp. 39-40; Solomon, pp. 151-52); Solomon, pp. 269-72. 17. The root is equal to the number of divisions desired and the base is equal to the ratio by which the interval is described. In conceptual and mathematical terms, identifying thirty equal divisions of the fourth is similar to the modem practice of identifying twelve equal divisions of the octave (the constant for this latter procedure is '$TI). In practical terms, however, there is a vast difference between the two, and Aristoxenus should not be associated with equal temperament of the octave, as will be demonstrated later in the paper. 18. For the sake of clarity, the numbers have been rounded to the nearest hundredth (excluding the constant). 19. In fact, this paper grew out'of this very project. I have recorded the various genera described in Ptolemy Har. 2.14 on a Synclavier 11; hence the necessity for expressing everything in cycles per second. A similar project has been undertaken by Fritz A. Kuttner (7he 7heory of Classical Greek Music, Theory Series, 1 [Musurgia Records, 19551) but with rather different results than my recording. 20. Therefore, the question whether Aristoxenus shunned the use of numbers in defining musical elements because of principle-some sort of anti-Pythagoreanism as implied by Crocker (p. 99)-or because of the inability of his mathematics to represent what he could conceptually represent with geometric terms-which I consider more probable-cannot be resolved. 2 1. It is not doubted that he heard some kinds of shadings of the various genera. It seems impossible, however, that the a c t shadings he defined could have been heard, recognized, analyzed, measured, and explained, since the likelihood of these tunings being unaffected by some minute variations from performance to performance is so small. 22. Cleonides Intro. 7; Aristides Quintilianus De musica 1.9. For an English translation of the latter, see Aristides Quintilianus, On Music in 7hree Books, trans. Thomas J. Mathiesen, Music Theory Translation Series (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983). pp. 83-86.
23. Ptolemy Har. 2.14. 24. Ingemar During, Die Harmonielehre des Klaudios Prolemaios, Goteborgs Hogskolas Arsskrift, 3611 (Goteborg: Elanders, 1930; reprint ed., Ancient Philosophy, 10, New York: Garland, 1980). pp. 70-74; idem, Prolemaios, pp. 85-88. 25. Claudios Ptolemaios, Armonikon Biblia Gamma, ed. Johannes Wallis (Oxford: e Theatro Sheldoniano, 1682), pp. 170-72. 26. Venetus Marcianus gr. app. cl. VIIIO (12th century; in During's schema, M); Vaticanus graecus 186 (13th c., During's E). 27. Vat. gr. 187 (14th c., During's VIs7). Other manuscripts that are similar but vary in relatively minor details include Vat. gr. 176 (14th c., During's A), Vat. gr. 191 (13th c., During's W), Vat. gr. 192 (13th c., During's V), and Neapolitanus graecus 261 (III.C.3) (14th-15th c., During's L). Vat. gr. 198 (14th c., Diiring's G) is an example of a table that significantly differs from Vat. gr. 187. For the information in this note and the one preceding, I am indebted to Thomas J. Mathiesen, who was able to furnish me with the data from his forthcoming volume for RISM dealing with the Greek music theory manuscript sources. 28. During, Harmonielehre, pp. LXXVIII-LXXXIX. 29. There is no evidence to suggest that the octave had any special significance in Aristoxenian thought other than that of a consonant interval. The concept of octave replication, for example, does not appear in Aristoxenus's Harmonics. By contrast, Ptolemy held the octave to be the primary consonant interval because of its ratio (2:l). Whoever constructed the charts may have felt compelled to fill the full octave with tuning patterns in keeping with the general emphasis placed on the octave in Ptolemy. 30. In addition, it should be noted that the string lengths in the "Ptolemaic" tables do not, indeed cannot, correctly represent the tunings. 31. To the modern musician used to tempered intervals, it may seem perfectly logical that 12 + 12 + 6 + 12 + 12 + 12 + 6 equals an octave. Moreover, enlarging Aristoxenus's tunings from a fourth to an octave necessitates dual and incompatible definitions of tone: (1) twelve thirtieths of a 4:3 fourth and (2) the musical difference between an octave and the sum of two fourths (2:l - [4:3 + 4:3]). This is mathematically and logically impossible-and musically unlikely. This logical absurdity, however, does not originate with Aristoxenus; it arises when trying to associate Aristoxenus with an equally tempered octave. Yet the idea of tempered intervals is not to be found in any of Aristoxenus's extant writing. Central to the present discussion is the assumption that Aristoxenus's theories were based on perfect consonances. This assumption is supported by the definitions Aristoxenus formulates for consonances, despite the fact that he refrained from using ratios to define them (cf. p. 61 and n. 20). 32. The relationship (if any) of this pattern in ascent to our major mode and this pattern in descent to the Dorian tonos is explored in Robert Tanner, "La musique antique grecque," Revue musicale, 248 (1961): 19-30. 33. Robert H. Herman, "Dialogo della musica antica et della m o d e m of Vincenzo Galilei: Translation and Commentary" (Ph.D, dissertation, North Texas State University. 1973), p. 309. 34. Giovanni Maria Artusi, L'Anusi overo delle imperfettioni della m o d e m music (Venice: Vincenti, 1600; reprinted., Bibliotheca musica bononiensis, 11/36. Bologna: Forni, ). Inferences are made throughout, but see specifically f. 34r. A complete English translation with commentary is available in my "Giovanni Maria Artusi's L'Artusi, oven, Delle impe$ettioni della m o d e m musica (1600): A Translation and
Commentary" (M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1987). 35. August Rossbach and Rudolf Westphal, heorie der musichen Kiimt der Hellenen, 4 vols. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1885-89; reprint ed., Hildesheim: Olms, 1966), II:50. 36. Diiring, "Greek Music," p. 319. 37. 1. Murray Barbour, Tuning and Temperament: A Historical Survey (East Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State College Press, 1951; reprint ed., New York: Da Capo, 1972), p. 22. 38. Many authors have attempted to make this connection. For instance, R. P. Winnington-Ingram (p. 195) attempts "to state what precisely Aristoxenus says . . . about the intervals of Greek Music, [and] secondly, to compare his evaluations with the ratios of the mathematicians and so consider what his rough-and-ready mathematics may conceal in the way of real musical intervals." Kathleen Schlesinger similarly tries to connect Aristoxenian theory with contemporary musical practice (see her "Further Notes on Aristoxenus and Musical Intervals," Classical Quarterly 27 : 88-96). 39. Aristoxenus Har. 2.45 (Macran, p. 198). Cf. Har. 1.20. 40. Aristoxenus Har. 2.55 (Macran, p. 206). Cf. Henderson, p. 343. 41. Aristoxenus Har. 2.45 (Macran, p. 198). 42. Schlesinger, for instance, proposes that Aristoxenus meant each fourth to be twelve cents sharper than a 4:3 fourth (see Schlesinger, p. 89), but this hardly seems likely. 43. Aristoxenus Har. 2.46 (Macran, p. 199). 44. Aristoxenus Har. 2.45, 2.55. Compare the definition of the fourth. 45. Aristoxenus Har. 1.25-26. The incompatibility between these two definitions of the tone has been addressed in n. 31. 46. Ptolemy Har. 1.10; Boethius De institutione musica 3.3. For an English translation of this latter, see Calvin Bower, "Boethius' h e Principles of Music: An Introduction, Translation, andCommentary"(Ph.D. dissertation, GeorgePeabody, 1966), pp. 178-80. 47. Macran, pp. 207-8. 48. The reader is again reminded that the line represents a continuum of pitch, not a tangible string. 49. (a)3:@ is the ratio of one half of 9:8. This is obtained by multiplying ?by L i n 8 2 which the square root is taken of both top and bottom elements: ?or (b) The addition of ratios is accomplished by placing the product of all upper elements over (c) The final step of 9 8 x 8 ~ 4 74B 6, dividing top element by bottom element is for the purpose of illustrating by decimal fractions the inequality of the two sides of the equation. 50. Most ancient authors who prove that Aristoxenus's proof does not work emphasize that a tone, because it is a superparticular ratio, cannot be mathematically divided in half. Early mathematics could not perform this operation without dividing the integer-a concept foreign to the discipline at that time. More sophisticated mathematics can in fact divide a superparticular ratio in two (cf. n. 49a), but two-and-one-half tones still exceed a perfect fourth. 51. Cf. Crocker, p. 103. He says, however, that Aristoxenus divided a 9:8 tone in half. But DF is not a 9:8 tone, so this is incorrect. 52. See, for example, Aristoxenus's definition of consonances discussed earlier. Cf, also Crocker, p. 101; Macran, p. 89. 53. Cecil Adkins, in his article "Monochord in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and the product of all lower elements:
30, 43. 2
Musicians (12 : 495-96) states that "In its earliest form the monochord's single string was stretched across two fixed bridges" with a moveable bridge used to divide the string. Adkins adds that "The name monochord was usually retained for multistring instruments when the strings were tuned in unison . . . ." This latter type of monochord is referred to by Ptolemy and Aristoxenus and called an octachordon. The advantage of this multi-stringed instrument is that several pitches can be compared at once. This is the kind of monochord that was in use in ancient times (see Aristoxenus Har. 1.2; Thomas J. Mathiesen, "Problems of Terminology in Ancient Greek Theory: 'APMONIA," Festival Essays for Pauline Alderman, ed. Burton Karson [Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 19761, pp. 12-13). 54. Aristoxenus makes this point immediately preceding the proof that two-and-one-half tones equal a fourth (Har. 2.55-56). Likely, this discussion is included in that particular location to give the reader all he would need to know to be able to execute the proof by ear, as opposed to using measurements of some kind. Thus, he implies that the proof ought to be executed without any help but the ear. 55. This is based on my experience executing the proof on an octachordon by ear alone. 56. In other words, Aristoxenus apparently espoused the notion that concepts must exist in an ideal state, regardless of their imperfect phenomenological manifestations. Hence, whether a concept is supported by natural phenomena is irrelevant since the imperfections both of our senses to perceive and of the physical world in which the phenomenon takes place deny the Ideal from being manifest (cf. Aristides Quintilianus De mus. 3.7 [Mathiesen, trans., pp. 169-721). The opposite of idealism is realism. See H. B. Acton, "Idealism," Encyclopedia of Philosophy 4 (1967): 110-18. 57. Euclid, Sectio canonis, propositions 15-16; in English, Thomas J. Mathiesen, "An Annotated Translation of Euclid's Division of a Monochord," Journal of Music Theory 19 (1975): 249. 58. Ptolemy Har. 1.10. 59. Boethius De inst. mus. 3.1 (Bower, pp. 171-76). 60. Mary Protase LeRoux, "The De harmonica institutione and Tonarius of Regino of Priim" (Ph.D. dissertation, Catholic University of America, 1965), p. 28. 61. Warren Babb, trans., Hucbald, Guido, and John On Music: Three Medieval Treatises, ed. Claude V . Palisca, Music Theory Translation Series (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1978), p. 22. 62. James Frederick Mountford, "Aristoxenus," The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2d ed., p. 118-19. 63. Reginald P. Winnington-Ingram, "Aristoxenus," The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1 (1980): 591-92. 64. b i d . 65. Fritz Wehrli, ed., Aristoxenos, Die Schule des Aristoteles, 2 (Basel: Schwabe, 1967). 66. Louis Laloy, Aristoxine de Tarenre er la musique de lantiquitc! (Paris: SociCt6 franqaise d'imprimerie et de librarie, 1904; reprint ed., Geneva: Minkoff, 1973). p. 15. 67. James Frederick Mountford and Reginald P. Winnington-Ingram, "Music," The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2d ed., pp. 705-13. For a more detailed discussion of music's role in Greek education, see Warren DeWitt Anderson, Ethos and Education in Greek Music (Cambridge: Haward University Press, 1966); Carnes Lord, Education and Culture in the Political Thought of Aristotle (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982). 68. The individual passages are too numerous to cite individually. For a good general overview, see Warren DeWitt Anderson, "Plato," The New Grove Dictionary of Music and
Musicians, 14 (1980): 853-57; idem, 'Aristotle," i%e New Grove Dicrionury of Music and Musicians, 1 (1980): 587-91. 69. Mountford, 'Aristoxenus." 70. Ibid. For information on the Pythagoreans' use of music, see C. Andr6 Barbera, "The Persistence of Pythagorean Mathematics in Ancient Musical Thought" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1980); Richard L. Crocker, "Pythagorean Mathematics and Music," Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 22 (1963-64): 189-98, 325-35. 71. G. B. Kerferd, "Aristotle," Ihe Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1 (1967): 151-62. 72. George Grote, Arisrorle, 2d ed. (London: John Murray, 1880; reprint ed., Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, New York: Amo, 1973), p. 423. 73. Aristotle Metaphysics 6.1 (1026a11-12) (Ihe Works of Aristotle, 2d ed., trans. W. D. Ross [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 19281). 74. Aristides Quintilianus devised just such a systematization of musical science (De mus. 1.5 [Mathiesen trans., pp. 76-77]; Mathiesen trans., p. 17). 75. For instance, when Pythagoras calmed a group of wild youths by ordering that the musician use a different scale (see Boethius De inst. mus. 1.1 [Bower, pp. 31-44]). 76. Aristides Quintilianus De mus. 3.7 (Mathiesen trans., p. 170). 77. Aristides Quintilianus De mus. 3.7 (Mathiesen trans., p. 171). 78. Cf. Mathiesen, "Problems," pp. 3-17. 79. Aristoxenus Har. 1.2-3; 2.40-41 (Macran, pp. 165-66; 194-96); Andrew Barker, "Hoi kaloumenoi harmonikoi: The Predecessors of Aristoexnus," Proceedings of rhe Cambridge Philological Society, 24 (1978): 1-21.
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You have printed the following article: Aristoxenus and Empiricism: A Reevaluation Based on His Theories Malcolm Litchfield Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 32, No. 1. (Spring, 1988), pp. 51-73.
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Pythagoras and Aristoxenos Reconciled Norman Cazden Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 11, No. 2/3. (Summer - Autumn, 1958), pp. 97-105.
Aristoxenus and the Intervals of Greek Music R. P. Winnington-Ingram The Classical Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 3/4. (Jul. - Oct., 1932), pp. 195-208.
An Annotated Translation of Euclid's "Division of a Monochord" Thomas J. Mathiesen; Euclid Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 19, No. 2. (Autumn, 1975), pp. 236-258.
Pythagorean Mathematics and Music Richard L. Crocker The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 22, No. 2. (Winter, 1963), pp. 189-198.
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