643344
ADKINS, Cecil Dale, 1932
THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF THE MONOCHORD.
State University of Iowa, Ph.D., 1963 Music
University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan
COPYRlGHT BY CECIL DALE ADKINS 1964
THE THEORY AND FMC TICE OF' THE MONOCHORD
by
Cecil Dale Adk1.ns
.~
A dissertation submitted in partial fultil~ent or the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Music in the Graduate College of the state University of Iowa
August 1963
Director: Associate Professor E. Eugene Helm Chairman and codirector: Professor Thomas S. Turner
Demonstrer toutes les divisions du Monoohorde, et oonsequemment toute la soienoe de la Musique.
Marin Mersenne in the Harmoni. universolle
11
FOREWORD
The relation o~ the monochord to musical theory and practice is o~ten re~erred to by writers on music, but seldom explained. This study was originally undertaken
in order to satisfy the writer's curiosity about aeveral seemingly unanswerable questions. These questions were originally raised by Leonard Ellinwood's incomplete discussion o~ the monochord in his translation o~ the Musica
 ...... _
1
of Hennannus Contractus, and by J. Murray Barbour's .
unexplained citation o~ the symbolic monochord o~ Robert Fludd.2 In the course o~ answering these questions it became apparent that the monochord played a praninent part in Western music ~rom the time of the Greeks to the present day. Furthermore, it was discovered that little infor.mation about the monochord was available outside the original
sources.
The dissertation is an attempt to make accessible
for the modern reader, in the form o~ a comprehensive
1.
Her.mannus Contractus, Musica Her.mannus Contractus, tr. by Leonard Ellinwood (Rochester: Eastman School of MusiC, 1936),23.
J. Murray Barbour, Tuning and Tem!erament (East Lansing:
Michigan State College PreSS: 195 ), Frontispiece.
iii
survey, the theoretical and practical applications o~ the monochord. The use of the monochord, covering a period
of about 2,500 years, is referred to in virtually every early theoretical work that discusses the elements of music. By surveying these sourCes it is hoped tbat one will gain an understanding o~ how the monochord influenced the development of theoretical principles and how changing musical practice is reflected in discussions of the monochord.
The study is based on published theoretical texts in Greek, Latin, English, Romance, and Germanic languages (as the original language or translation) whether as first printed editions, reeditions, or photographic reproductions o~ editions. The main omissions are unpublished treatises and works originating in nonWestern sources, these being omitted mainly because of inaccessibility. Within these limitations the author has tried to examine and evaluate all writings dealing with the monochord fran the early Greek era to the present day.
The only other known study of the monochord was written by Sigfrid Wantzloeben in 1911, and it is only a
iv
3
briaf survey. In order to fill in the blank spots left
by Wantzloeben's somewhat sketchy approach, this dissertation is divided into four main parts. Chapter I is a discussion or the techniques of the monochord. Chapters II through V survey thetheoretlcal aspects of the instrument's use. ChapteI's VI and VII cover the practical applications of the monochord, both in teaching and in musical performance. Chapter VIII is a discussion of the philosophical uses of the instrument, and is based on the manner in which the monochord serves as a representative tool of number symbolism, mainly in the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
The translations of quoted material, unless otherwise noted, are by this author. In many cases, in order to avoid repetitiou.s discussion, the translations are such
that they should be regarded as paraphrases rather
than literal translations. In quoting translations by other authors, their spellings and punctuations have been retain~d, as have the mechanical details of the few untranslated quotations. In all quotations, translated and
3. Sig1'rid Wantzloeben, Das Monochord als Instrument und als §z,stem (Halle: E1irliardt Karras7"T911).
v
otherw1.se, the onginal sources are cited so the. t the interested reader may campare our interpretation with his own, ir he so desires.
The only abbreviations appearing in this work are
the use of GS to represent the Scriptores ecclesiastici 4
de'musica of Martin Gerbert, CS to represent the Scriptorum
5
de musice. medii aevi of Edmond de Coussemaker, MP for the
6 Patrologiae cursus completus of Jacques Migne, ~ ror
Beihefte ~ Internationalen Musikgesellschaf~, and Mg for The Musical Qparterly. (The latter two abbreviations appear only on Table 6, page 93.)
I~wish to acknowledge, with deepest appreciation, all those who assisted in the completion or this study: my ramily whose patience was admirable, and Professors Eugene He1Jn and Thomas Turnel', who have contributed immeasurably in bringing this werk to frui tion. Thanks are also due to th~ stafr or the University of Iowa Library through whose agency much of the material used in this work was obtained.
5.
Martin Gerbert, scrirtores ecclesiastici de musica, 3 vola. (San Blaaian a, 1784), facaimi1e ea. (Milano:
Bollettino bibliografico musicale, 1931).
Edmond de Coussamaker, Scriptorum de musica medii ae,;i, 4 vols. (Paris, 1867), f'acs1Di!"le ecL (Milano: ~ettino bibliografico musicale, 1931).
4.
6. Jacques letina,
vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
FOREWORD
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
iii
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS • •
• • • • •
• • •
• • • •
· .
ix
Chapter
I • THE MONOCHORD
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
1
Acoustical Systems applied to the
Monochord • • 'Q • • • '.. • • • • •• 12
The lfanua1 Technique of the Monochord •• 18 Methods of Representing Monochord
D1 vi s ion s • 2 • • • c • • • • • • •• 2 9
II.
THE MONOCHORD IN THE GREEK ERA ••••
• • • •
35
Greek Musical Writings from about
500 B.C. to A.D. 500 • • • •• • •• 35 The Greek Musical System • • • • • • " 39 Greek Dl.'l7isions of the Monochord •• •• 49
III.
THE IIONOCHOE> IN THE MIDDLE AGES • • •
• • • •
• •
68 68
81 95
191
Musical Treatises in the Middle Ages The Development of the Medieval Scale
SysteIn •• • • • • • • • • • • •
The D.t visions of the Monochord Ln the Middle Ages • • • • • • • • • • •
• •
• •
IV.
THE MONOCHORD IN THE llliNAISSANCE •
• • • • • •
Monochord Treatises of the Renaissance • 191 The Tunings and Temperaments of the Renaissance • • • • 0 • • • • • • •• 198 The Monochord 1)1. visions of the
'Renais sane e • • • • • • • • •
• •
• •
205
vii
VI.
VII.
VIII.
APPENDIX
v.
POSTRENAISSANCE USES OF THE MONOCHORD
• • • •
285
General Orientation of Treatises Dealing with the Monochord
after the Renaissance • • • • • • •• 285 PostRenaissance Scale and Acoustical Developnents •••• .• • • • • • •• 290 PostRenaissance Uses of the Monochord Considered Chronologically • • • • • 296
THE DIDA01!C USES OF THE MONOCHORD •
• • • • •
337
Greek Usages of the Monochord as a
Teaching Device • • • • • • • • • •• 338 'Ihe Medieval Pedagogy of the Monochord • 341 T.he Teaching Uses of the Monochord in
the Renaissance and Later Eras ••• 356
THE INSTRUMENTAL APPLICATIONS OF THE
MONOCHORD • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • •
361
The Monochord as a Performing Instrument • • • • • • • • • • • The Descendants of the Monochord •• The Monochord as an Aid in Instrument Construction •• • • • • • • • •
• •
361 372
405
• •
• •
THE SYMBOLIC AND RELIGICUS USES OF THE
MONOOHO RD • • • • • • • • • • • •
• • • •
422
Elements of Pythagorean Symbolism • • •• 426 The Infusion of Pythagoreanism into the Christian Era and the Middle Ages • • 438 The Hamony of the Spheres in the
Musical Writings of tne Middle
Ages 'and the Renaissance • • • • •• 441 The Symbolic Use of the Monochord • • •• 457
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
474 480
BIBLIOGRAPHY
• • • • a • • • • It • • • • • • • • • •
viii
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Diagrams
(Diagrams of specific monochord divisions are easily Page identifiable by those captions which consist of a
nama and the title of a treatise.)
1. Medieval diagram of the monochord.
2. The basic intervals of Greek music.
• • • •
• • • • •
3. The Euclidean constructicn.
• • • • • • • • •
4. The mesolabium.
. . . . . . . . . " . . . . .
5.
Linear representation of a monochord
division. ••••••••••
• •
. . . .
"
6. Sample diagram of a monochord division.
• • •
7.
The Aristoxenian division of the
tetrachord. •••••••
• • •
• •
• • •
8.
A linear representation of Ptolemy's
monochord. •••••••••••
• • • • •
9. Ptolemy's first helicon.
10. Ptolemy's second helicon.
• • • • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • • • •
guc1id, Sectio canonis (~. 300 B.C.).
• • • •
3 14 26
28
32 33
46
52 54 56 59
'.ristides Qu.intil1anus (fl. A.D. 150),
.. ~ musica. •••••••••••••••• 61
13. The monochord division of Theon of
Smyrna us. •••••••••••••••• 64
14.
Boethius (ca. 480529), De institutione
musica. ••••• : •••••••
• • • •
15.
Boethius's division Hyperbolaion in
• • • •
of the Tetrachordon the th~ee genera.
1:.: ~.,
99
102
16.
17.
18.
Boatr~~sls threegenera division of the Greater Perfect System. •••••
Hucba1d (ca. 840930), De institutione
ha·I'DloiiIca. •••• : • • • • • • •
• • • • •
103
• •
• • •
III
Anon. 2, GS I, 338342, '1' rae tatus de musica
(~. WO). •••••••••••••
• • •
113
19. Anen. La Fage, 193194, Si vis metiri monochordi
(2nd hall' IOtih C.). . :. • • • • • • • •• 114
20. Notker Labeo (d. 1022), De musica.
21.
22.
· .. . . . .
116
Odoranne (ca. 9851045), De divisione Monochordi. •••• : • • • • •
• •
117 118
• • • •
T'ne letter notation of Hermannua c on trac tais .
· .
. 23. Anon. 4c, GS I,345aS47a, De mensura monocordi
(.£!. 1~ C.). •• : ••••• ~ •• ;... 120
24. Anon. GS I, 122, Cita et vera d1visi0 monocord1
inQiatonico genera(2!. 900). ••• ::. 122
25. Anon. 1, GS I, 330338, Musica (lOth C.).
• • •
124
26. Anon. 4a, GS I, 244a345a, De mensura monocordi
(.£!.. 12th C. ) • •••• : • • • • • • • • :. 126
27. Anon. La Fage, r1374, Monocordum campos1turus
(£!.. 10th C.) • •••••••••••••• 131
28. Anon. GS I, 173212, Scho119. anch1riadis
( ca. • 900). ••••••••••••••••• 132
29. The central octave of the Grea ter Perf'ect
System. • • • • • • • • • · • • • • • • · • 134
30. The major disdiapason. • • • • • · • • • • • • 135
31. The Daae1an scale. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 138 32. Anon. MP OLI, cols. 693694, Monochordum
enChiriad1s (£!.. 1000). •••••••••• 141
33.
Anon. La Fage, 74, CQmBOS1t10 monocord1 secundum
enchir1adem (~. 1 th C. J • ••••••••
142
x
34.
Odo of St. Maur (Cl~my), D;alogus (~. 1000). ••••••••
• •
• • • •
145
• •
35. Aribonis, De musica (1070).
36.
• • • • • • • • • •
149
Theoger of Metz, Musica (late 11th C.).
· .
• •
149a
37. Guido d'Arezzo, Microl~~ (~. 1026).
38.
• • • •
150
Jean de Muri8 (ca. 12901351), Musica spec 111a ti va: • • • • • • • • • •
~ . . .
• •
1_53 155
39. Ph111pp& de Vi try, Ars !!£!!. (£!.. 1318).
· . . .
40. Anon. (Tunstede), CS IV, 208220, guatuor
p_rin_cipa1ia (ca. 1350). •••••••••• 157
41. Prosdocimus de Beldemand1s, Libel1us monocho~di
( £!. • 1413). •••••••••• :. •• 159 160
Ugol1no d'Orvieto, Dec1aratio musicae
Disciplinae (.£!.. 1440). . •.•.
43. Gu1~o d'Arezzo, Micro1ogus (~. 1028).
42.
161162 164
• • •
• • • •
44. Aribonis, De musica (1070).
• • • • • • • • • •
168
45. J. Affl1gemensis (Cotton), Tractatus de musica
(~. 1100). • ••••••••• : ••••• 169
46.
47. 48.
Anon. 4b, GS I, 345a, Mensura mon0chordi
( ~ • 12'£h C.). ••••••.••••
• • •
171 174
Hugo von Reut1ingen, Flores musieae (1332).
• •
Georgio Anselmi, De musica (1434).
• • • •
176177
49. Anon. Steglich. guaestiones in musica
( £!. • 1100). •••••••••••••••• 186
50. Anon. La Cart, Paris, MS. B.N. Latin 7295, fo1.
111 (~. 1475) •••••••••••••• 0 208
51.
Franchinus Gaffurius, Theorica musica
(1492). ••••••••••••
• • • •
210 212
• •
52. Andreas Ornithoparcus, Micrologus (1517).
• • •
xi
53.
54.
Henricus Gr~ateus, Aritbmetica app1icirt
(1518). • ••••••••••.•••
• • •
215
• •
217
Johannes Ga11icus, Ritus canendi ve1ustlssumus
et novus (~. 1520). • ••••••••
55. Giovanni Maria Lanfranco, Scintille di musice.
( 1533) • ...........: • • • •• 219
56. Martin Agricola, Musica instrumenta1is deutsch
(1545). • ••••••••••••••.•• 221
57. llenricus GlareanuB, Dodecachordon (1547).
58.
59.
· . .
Gj .. o,~ef'fo Zar1ino J (1558) • •.
Ist1 tutioni harmon1.ce
. . . . . . . ~ . . . .
• 0 • •
226
229
231
60. Vlncenzo Galllei, Dialogo della musica antica
et moder~ (1588). • ••••••••••• 233
61. 62. 63.
Wolfgang Figulus, ~ muslca practica
(1565). • •••••••••••
. . . . . .
236
• •
239
Lemme 'Rossi, Sistema musico (1666).
. . . . . .
• •
240
Salinas's demonstration of the consonances.
Anon. Dupont, Pro c1avicordis faciendis (2nd half of 15mC.). •••••••••.•
64. Anon. Ie Cert, Paris,'MS. B.N. Latin '1295, fol.
128 (.2!.. 1475). •••••••••.•••• 242
65. 66. 67.
68.
69.
Ramos de Paraia, JEusica practica (1482). Ludovico Fog1iano, MUsica theorica (1529). Gioseffo Zar1ino, Dimostrationi har.monice
( 1571) • ••••••••••••••
• • •
· . . .
Francisco Salinas, De musica 1ibri saptam
( 1577) • ••• : • • • • • • • • • •
• • • •
Athanasius Kircher, Musurgia universa1is
(1650) • •••••••••••••
. . . . .
70. Lemme Rossi, Sistema musico (1666).
. . . . ~ .
xii
• •
245 250
252
256
257
259
71.
Gioseffo Zarlinol . Ist1tut1on1 harmonice
(1558) • •••••••.•.•••••
• • •
72. Lemme Rossi, Sistema musico (1665).
74.
75.
75.
77. 78. 79.
• • • • • •
Rossi's triangulation for the meantone
temperament. • ••••••••
• • •
• • •
252
253
254
255
304305
•
315 324 350 351
Rossi's geometric. construction of two mean
proportior~ls. • ••••••••••
· . .
• •
80. Linear representation of the monochord showing
the position of the consonances. .••••• 352
81.
Johann Neidhardt, Beste und leichteste
Temperatur (1705) :7 .
• • •
• 354a
82. The action of the organistrum and
hurdy gurdy • •••••••••••.•••• 375
83.
StrAhle's geometrical determination of equal
temperament. •••••••••••••
• • •
380
84. Anon. 1, GS II, 283286, De men sura f1stularum
in organis (£!. 11th rr7). • •••••••• 382
Henri Choquel, La musique rendue (1752).
• • •
The Cribrum monochord1 of Wilhelm of Hirsau.
The monochord diagrams of Theoger of Metzo
The manual demonstration of the apotome.
• •
Odo of St. Mauro (Cluny), ranodo organistrum
construatur {£!.. 1000. • •••••••••
85. Aribonis, ~ musics (1070).
85.
87.
88.
• • • • • e • •
Mersenne's determination of the diameters of
organ pipes. • •••.•••••••.•
Diagram fram Abdias Traw's Disputatio
musica. ••••••••••••
• •
• • • •
Juan Bermudo, Declaraci6n de Instrumentos musicales (1555). .: •••••••
. . . .
7.1i1
410
. .
411
412
417
89.
John Dowland, fram the Varietie of Lute Lessons (1610). • •••• :.:7
• • •
• •
418
90. Ptolemy's representatlons of the unlverse. •• 459
91. Zarlino's geometrical demonstration of the
intervals of the just tuning. ••••••• 475
92. Salinas's hellcon.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
93.
'Herlngton's geanetr1cal demonstration of
intervals. • ••••••••••••
• • • •
Plates
1. A Renaissance monochord.
• • • • • • • • • • • •
2.
Renaissance woodcut of Pythagoras and the flrst monochord. ••••••••••
• •
• •
3. Fogllano's demonstration of the consonances.
4.
Fogl1ano's monochord.
• • • • • • • • • • • • •
5.
The monochord of Abraham Bartolus.
• • • • • •
6. Trew's diagram of the monochord.
• • • • • • •
7.
Neidhardt's monochord diagram for the onetwelfth comma temperament. •• ~ •••
. . .
8. Warren's tonometer.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • •
9. The monochord of Danlel Berlin.
• • • • • • • •
10. The monochord of Mulllnger Hlggins.
11. A nlneteenthcentury monochord~
• • • • • •
• • • • • • • •
Guldo demonstratlng the monochord for Bls~op
The obald. •••••••••••••••
• •
13.
A, monochord perfo:r:mance of the eal'J.y
twelfth century. • ••••••
• • • • • •
xlv
477
478
5
•
10 247 249 272 278
306
311
326 332 333
345
367
14. Religious and secular music. • • • • • • • • • 369
15. A. monochord of the thirteenth century • • · • • 371
16. The o rgani a trum • • • • • • • · • • • • • • • • 376
17. An organistrum.. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 377
18. Two players of the cinfonia. • • • • • • • • • 378
19. Late medieval drawing of a clavichord. • • • • 387
20. A Dutch woodcarving of a clavichord. • · • · • 388
21. Angel playing a clavichord. • • • • • • • • • • 389
22. Centaurs playing a dicorde and a
hurdygurdy. • • • • • • • • • • • · • · • 392
23. Detail f'rom "Is. Fuente de la vida" by a
disciple of' Van Eyck. • • • • • • • • • • 393
24. Hans Burglonair: Kaiser Maximilian und die
Musik, 1516. • • • • • • · • • • • • • · • 394
25. Hans Memling: Concert of Angels, ca. 1490. • 395
26. Holbein: Der KrAmer, E!. • 1525. • • • • • • • 396
27. Glareanus's trcmba marina. • • • • • • • · • · 399
28. Praetorius's tromba marina. • • • • • • • • • 401
29. Mersenne's tromba mar ina s • • • • • • • · • · • 402
30. Nicolas. de Larmessin: A Musician's Dress,
ca. 1700. • . • • · • • • · • • · · · · · • 406
31. Ganassi's method of' fretting the viol. • • • • 415
32. Gibel's tuning pipe. • • • • • • • • • • • • • 420
33. A symbolic illustration of' the monochord. • • 424 34.
Ti tIe page from Robert Fludd's Utriusque
c osmd , •••••••••••.•••
• • • •
454
xv
35. Frontispiece from Athanasius Kircher's
Musurgia uni versalis . •••••••••• 456
36. A symbolic monochord of the eleventh
century. ••••••••••••••
3? •
Gatfurius's symbolic representation of the
monochord. •••••••••.•••
• •
38. The monochord diagram of Glareanus.
• • • • •
39. Abraham Bartolus's symbolic monochord.
40. The monochord ot ~obert Fludd.
• • •
. . . . . . .
41.
Christopher Simpson's analogy between music and astrology. ••••••••••••
• •
Tables
1. The Greater Perfect System.
. . . . . . . . .
2. Tetr~chordon Synemmenon.
• • • • • • • • • • •
3. Aristides's system of string lengths.
• • • •
4. Medieval letter notation.
• • • • • • • • • •
5. Summary of descending monochord divisions.
6. Summary of ascending monochord d,lvieions.
• •
460461
463 464 466 468
472
•
40 42 65 93
127 179
7. The Aristidea~ numbers used as string lengths
for the three genera. •• a • • • • • •• 182
8. The monochord division of Walter Odington. 189
9.
Zarlino's string lengths for the
Tetrachordon Hypaton. •••
• •
. . .
• •
10. Reinhard=s list of tones and semi tones.
• • •
11. Colonna's table of string lengths.
• • • • •
xvi
203 271 274
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
. Fl.
18. 19.
20. 21. 22.
Mersenne's table of consonances and dissonances of the monochord.
• •
• • •
Werckme1ster's string lengths based on
8100 un1 ts. ••••••••••••
Neidhardt's string lengths for a multiple
division of twentysix notes. • ••
Neidhardt's basic string lengths for the onetwelfth comma temperament. • ••••••
Neidhardt's four onetwelfth comma temperaments. ••••.•••
• •
• • •
Neidhardt's string lengths for the four onetwelfth comma temperaments. •••••
Warren's string lengths for the tonometer. lIeckenheuser's string lengths for a tempered
monochord. •••••••••••••••
Levens's string lengths for the monochord. Marpurg's string lengths for the monochord. Ebbert Smith's string lengths for the
monochord. .••••••••••
• • • •
. .
· .
• •
• •
. . .
• •
• •
· .
• •
. . . . . .
23. Berlin's chromatic octave for the monochord.
.. 24. 25.
Young's string lengths for the monochord.
Stanhope's string lengths for the monochord.
:x;vii
• • •
281282
299
303
307
308
308 312
314 317 319
•
323 325 328 329
•
1
Chapter I THE MONOCHO RD
~onochord  A contrivance consisting o£ a single string which is stretched over a lengthy wooden resonator to which a movable fret is attached ,so that the pbrating len.gth of the string can be varied.
This defini tion, taken from a contemporary music diction
ary, varies little from the scores of definitions given in musical writinGs of the past 2,000 years, indicating that
the monochord is probably the oldest of man's musical
instruments still surviving in unaltered fonn. The usual instructions for building a monochord direct that the
instrument should be constructed on a flat surf'ace, and
should have three bridges and a string. The flat surf'ace serves as a foundation for the bridges and also as a table upon which to mark the placement of the movable bridge (referred to as "f'ret" in the Harvard Dictionary definition). The resonating bOX, mentioned above, is only one of' a host of' alterations made upon the basic design, and with the exception of a few minor changes, all the alterations seam to be directed at incr~~sing or enhancing the tone.
1. Willi Apel, "l!onochord," Harvard Dicti.onary of Music (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press:1958), 454455.
2
Ptolemy (fl. second century), in his directions for constructing the monochord, states that the edges of the
end bridges (magades), at ~e point where the string crosses, are to be as nearly spherical as possible. He further specifies that the string should be of a consistent diameter and that ttLe bridges are to be of equal height so that the string will be parallel to the table. The movable bridge
is to be very thin, and somewhat higher than the end
2 bridges.
The monochord in its early form, and in the fom. utilized throughout the Middle Ages (Diagram 1), was a table or plank (AC) upon which were erected two bridges (EB & FD). The string was stretched across the bridges (EF) and securely fastened at the ends (AC). A movable bridge (K) was then placed underneath the string, dividing it into
two sec tions (Eli &: KF). T'ae marks indicating the placement of the movable bridge were then inscribed on the table, underneath the string, between the two end bridges (B & D).
The only major change in the instrument was made after 1500 when one of the end bridges was replaced by a nut, and the movable bridge was removed. By lowering the remaining bridge, the string was placed close enough to the
2. Ingemar Dtiring, Ptolemaios und Porphyrios aber die Musik (GBteborg: Elander, !934), 3536. 
•
3
Dlagram 1. Medieval diagl'am of the monochord. 3
A
K
F
(1:'\
3. Boethius, De musica, ed. G. Friedlein.(Lipsiae:
Teubneri, I867) , Bk. IV, Cap. XVIII, 349. This diagram illustrates what appears to have been a misconception of the medieval writers. Ptolemy's directions indicate that only the edge of the bridge is to be rounded, but many later writers have taken this to mean that
the bridge is to be constructed in the form of a semicircle; for exampl~ in the accompanying illustration from Glarenaus' s Dodeca.chordon (Bas'el: Petri, 1547):
These writers frequently reter to this kind of bridge as a hemisphere or a samisphere. Another instance of this usage may be found in Zarlino's D~ostrationi harmonice (1571).
4
table so that the pitches could be produced by pressing the string against the table or top of the resonator (Plate 1).
This procedure, however, must he ve grea tly reduced the accuracy of the pitches by further stretching the string, and by rendering the pitches capable of slight instantaneous alteration, governed perhaps by ear rather than calculation
such as one might produce on a violin.4
Andreas Ornithoparcus, in 1517, gave an account of the manner of constructing an instrument like the one shown in Plate 1:
4. In trying to determine the accuracy of the monochord, this writer has concluded, from experiments with the instrument, that, under casual conditions, the closest positioning of a bridge is limited to approximately 0.5 millimeter, which, on a one~eter string, ~s an error of about four cents. These experiments were conducted with a bridge as nearly as possible the same height as the end bridges; thus the margin of error
of a "slightly higher" bridge could only have been increased. When one realizes that the Pythagorean schisma is only two cents and the Pythagorean caroma is twentythree cents, and that the average person's hearing discrimination in the octave below middle C
is restricted to pitch differences of approximately six to twelve cents (cf. Charles Culver, Musical Acoustics [New York: McGrawHill, 195~, 29) , it quickly becomes apparent thatmicrotonic intervals,
in theoretical discussions at least, were probably
as much an intellectual development as they were an audible phenomenon. In any case, the accurate reproduction of many intervals on the mbnochords described seems highly dubious. An attempt by Ptolemy to overcame these inaccuracies is described on p. 66, tn. 33.
5
Plate 1.
5 A Renaissance monochord.
A monochord, that is, an instrument or one string, is thus true1y made. Take a peece of wood or a yard long, or what length you please, or two fingers bredth, and so thicke, make it hollow in the middle, leaving the ends or itunho11owed.
Let it be covered with a belly peece well mnoo thed , that hath holes in it, like the belly or a
lute • • •• This done, in the extreme points, set little props to hold the string, least the sound of the string be dulled with touching the wood. This readied, set to one string of wyre, strong, big and stretched, so that it may give a sound Which may be easily heard, and you shall have your monochord perfect.6
5.
Athanasius Kircher, Musur~ia universalis, 2 vo1s. (Rame: 1650), Bk. III, 1 ~
6.
Andreas Ornithoparcus, Mlcrol08§s, tr. by John Dowland (London: T. Adams, 16 ~), 22.
6
Later wr1tersdescribe the construction of mono
chords of a variety of sizes and shapes, many of which are equipped wi th more than one string. Technically the se
mul ti.stringed instruments should no t be called monochords, but the consensus was that if the strings were tuned in ~ison the designation was to be retained. In same instances, monochords with many strings were tuned in octaves and perhaps other intervals, and in these cases the use of the instrument like an ordinary monochord caused the retention of the name. The following account from Glareanus's Dodecachordon of 1517 describes the construction of a
multistringed monochord:
••• I ordered a quadrate, hollow piece of wood to be made by a carpenter, rather plainly
(as the expression goes), three feet long, a quarter of a foot thick, a third of ~. foot wide with two immovable bridges at the extremity of
the length and with one movable bridge. I spread four strings over this, so ·that one string became the theme, as it were, and I related the remaining subsidiary strings to it for division in the three genera of modulating, although I found af ..... rwards that two strings were sufficient; we have made use of this instrument satisfactorily enough for what we wished to investigate and we still
use it at present.7
In s pi te of a mul ti tude of refj.nemen t s , the in s trumen t . remains virtually the same toda·y as when an unknown Greek
7. Heinrich Glareanus, Dodecachordon, tr. by Clement Miller (unpublished dissertation, University of Michigan, 1952), 136.
7
combined the words ~ (single) and chorda (string) into the name monochord.
According to tradition, the monochord originated with Pythagoras (ca. sixth century B.C.), and it was this invention which enabled him to formulate certain theories
that, in the opinion of most writers, serve as a basis for
what is known about Greek acoustical theory. Whether it was his own invention or an acquisition fram his travels in the Middle East, is not known. However, he is credited
by Nicomachus with the addition of an eighth string, to the Greek lyre, which eventually enabled the Mese to serve as the midpoint of the system.8
Pythagoras is said to have been successful in the development of his theories because of his earlier discovery of the relationships of string lengths  which he is re
puted to have made in a most curious manner. Sir Thanas Stanley's History of Fnilosophy contains a quaint translation of Nicomachus's account of Pythagoras's discovery.
8.
Nicamachus, ~thagOriC~ harmonices manuale, Bk. II, Latin trails.n Marcus Me1bom, AritiiIuae musicae auctores septem, 2 vols. (Amsteloda : Ludov1cum Elzevirium, 1652), Vol. I. For a detailed explanation of the farreaching effects of the addition, see
J. F. Mountford, "Greek Music and its Relation to 1.Iodern Times, rr The Journal of Hellenic StUdies, XL
(1920), 1342. 
· .'
8
Pythagoras being in an intense thought whether he might invent any instrumental help to the ear, solid and infallible, such as the sight ha th by a oompass and a rule, and by a Dioptre; or the touch, or by a balance, or by the invention of measures;
as he passed by a smith's shop by a happy chance
he heard the iron hammers striking on the anvil, and rendering sounds most consonant to one another in all combinations except one. He observed in them' these three concords, the diapason, the diapente, and the diatessaron; but that which was betl/een the diatessaron and the dd apenbe he found to be a discord in itself, though otherlJisa useful for the making up of the greater of them, the diapente. Apprehending this came to him from God,
as a most happy thing, he hastened into the shop, and by various trials finding the difference of the sounds to be according to the weight of the hammers. and not according to the fashion of the hammers, and not according to the force of those who struck, nor according to bhe turning of the iron which was in beating out: having taken exactly the weight
of the hammers, he went straightway hame, and to
one beam fastened to the walls, cross fram one corner of the roo~ to the 'other, lest any difference might arise fram thence, or be suspected to arise from the properties of several beams, tying four strings of the same substance, length, and twist, upon each of them he hung a several weight, fastening it at the lower end, and making the length of the strings altogether equal; then striking the strings by two at a time interchangeably, he found out the aforesaid concords, each in its own combination; for that which was stretched by the greatest weight, in respect of that which was stretched by the least weight, he found to sound a diapason. The greatest weight was of twelve
pounds, the least of six; thence he dete~ined
that the diapason did consist in double proportion, which the ~eights ~~emsel~e~ did shew. Next he found that the greatest to the least but one,
which was of· eight pounds, sounded a Diapente; whence he inferred this to consist in the proportion called Sesquialtera, in which proportion the weights were to one another; but unto that which was less than itself in weight, yet greater than the res t, being of nine pounds, he found it to
9
sound a Diatessaronj and discovered that, proportionally to the weights, this concord was Sesquitertia; which string of nine pounds is naturally Sesquialtera to the least; for nine to six is so, viz., Sesquialtera, as the least but one, which
is eight, was to that which had the weight six,
in proportion Sesqu1tertia, and twelve to eight
is Sesquialtera; and that which is in the middle, between Diapente and Diatessaron, whereby Diapente exceeds Diatessaron, is confir.med to be in Sesquioctava proportion, in which nine is to eight. The system of both was called Diapason, that is both of the Diapente and Diatassaron jOined together, as duple proportion is compounded or Sesquialtera and Sesquitertia; such as are twelve, eight, six, or on the contrary, or Diatessaron and Diapente, as cluple proportion is compounded or Sesqui tertia and Sesquialtera, as twelve, nine, six, being taken in tha t order.
Applying both his hand and ear to the weights which he had hung on, and by them confirming the proportion of the relations, he ingeniously transferred the common result of the string upon the cross beam to the bridge of an instrument, which he called Chordotonos; and for stretching them proportionably to the weights, he invented pegs, by the turning whereor he distended or relaxed them a t pleasure. Making use or the foundation
as an infallible rule, he extsnded the exper tment to many kinds of instruments.
9.
Sir Thomas Stanley, History of PhilOSO~Y (l70l), 387, quoted in Sir John Hawkins, aGeneral sto~ of the Science and Practice or Music, 2nd ed. (Lon~n:Novello,r853), vol. i; ~10. The relationship of
the weights to the pitches is obviously unsound, both in regard to the hammers and to th~ weights attached to the strings; yet this anecdote was transmitted unaltered from Pythagorean t~es until the end of the sixteenth century, when Galileo Galilei made note of the error in a treatise entitled Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Mathamatiche intorno a due nuove SCienze. See:
Meibom, note in Aritiquae musieae, " Gaudentius," 37. Plate 2 shows a typical Renaissance representation of Pythagoras's exper~ents {from Franchinus Gafurius, Theorica musicae, facs~ile ed. [Roma: ~eale Iccademia d'Italia, 1931], p. VIr.
10
Pla te 2. Renaissance woodcut of Pyths.goras and the first monochord.
Although the origins of the instrument are shrouded in the haze of antiquity, its usage can be definitely traced to about 300 B.C., when, according to Greek writings, the monochord seems to have been most often a tool
of the mathematician. This is partly evidenced by the
fac t tha t mos t of the musical studies of the period appear as the works of those authors whose main literary contributions are concerned with mathematics. One should bear
11
in mind, however, that Greek scholars were frequently active in many areas of knowledee and that combinations such as music and mathernati'cs were only a manifestation of a rich intellectual tradition. In these surroundings the monochord was used as a device to provide both visual and aural representation of the mathematical ratios of the intervals. There is also evidence that the monochord may h~ve found, among the Greeks, some small favor as a performing instrument (see Chapter VII) .•
In the Mic.'l.dle Ages the . monochord not only fulfilled the basic functions allotted to it by the Greeks, but it also served as the pr1.ncipal method of expounding details
of music theory  that is, it was employed frequently in explanation of the ma thema tical manner of determining in tervals and scales as well as utilized as a pitchproducing instrument for the teaching of singing. The Renaissance
and later perio~s utilized the instrument to a great extent as a practical means of exper~enting with scalar variants, and to a lesser extent as a pitchproducing medium for the tuning of keyboard instruments. A system of acoustical representation expressed in the form of string lengths, which we s derived from the monochord, als 0 found great favor with theorists, composers, and mathematicians in this latter era. S'Ylllbolic use was made of the monochord in this
12
era to illustrate the unity that existed between man and his environment  both physical and spiritual. As more accurate devices for pitch exper~entation became available, the monochord fell into disuse, surviving in the twentieth century only as a laboratory instrument for the demonstration of str1ng vibration and other phenomena.
Acoustical Systems Applied !2 the Monochord
The divisions of· the monochord are usually. represented in musical literature by means of proportions, string lengths, or cents. The first two methods have a tradition almost as old as the monochord itself. The third, a fairly recent innovation, is greatly favored by most contemporary writers on acoustics. A fullscale explanation of these systems is not requisi tie to an understanding of the monochord, but it is nevertheless necessary for the reader to understand the vocabulary utilized in this study.
Proportions
The Pythagorean concept of monochord division by proportions is based on two means: the arithmetic mean and the harmonic mean. The arithmetic mean is equidistant from the extremes, and the harmonic mean exceeds and is exceeded by equal parts of the extremes. For the nonphilosophical
13
purposes of this discussion it is important to know only that the arithmetic mean of 6 and 12 is 9 (that is,'9 is
3 more than 6 and 3 less than 12), and tha t the harmonic mean of these two numbers is 8 (that is, 8 exceeds 6 by 1/3 of 6 and is exceeded by 12 by 1/3 of 12). The numbers
6, 8, 9, and 12 prcvt.de the basic ma terial of the Pythagorean acoustical system.
The relationships of these numbers provide four
•
Pythagorean intervals': 6:12, the diapason (octave); 6:9 and 8:12, the diapente (fifth); 6:8 and 9:l2, the diatessaron (fourth); 8:9, the tone (major second). These relationships are demonstrated in Diagram 2. Vfuen these
•
ratios are reduced to their lowest wholenumber expressions (e.g., when 6:9 is reduced to 2:3), they can be given names. From right to left in Diagram 2 they are called multiplex and superparticular proportions; fram left to
10 right, submultiplex and subsuperparticular proportions.
10. Presentday understanding of the proportions is based on the five species of proportions expounded by the theorists of the late fifteenth century. Of these species (i.e., genus multiplex, genus superparticulare, genus superpartiens, genus multiplex superparticulare, and genus multiplex superpartiens), only the first
two are used in connection with the monochord. Willi Apel, in The Notation of Polyphonic Music, 4th edt (Cambr1dg~ass.: TheMediaeval Academy of America, 1953), 146, defines these two speCies as follows: (Footnote continued on p. 14.)
f';
14
Diagram 2. The basic intervals of Greek music.
J ;o..pa.son
dio.pente
dio.tess(u·ol\
I
6
~I tone
I
q 12
·~L__.I
~o..te.5so..~on _
d io..pente.
10.
(Continued fram p. 13.)
"In tenns of modern arithmetic, the first genus. comprises all fractions the denominator of which is 1, e.g., ¥roportio duple. equals 2/1; tripla equals 3/ ; guadrupia equals 4/1, etc. The second genus comprises all fractions the numerator of which is one more than the denaminator. In Latin ter.minology, these fractions were indice.ted by the prefix sehiui, which actually means addition of the If: 1 plus 1/2 equals 3/2. In conjunction with the terms altera, tertia, iusrta etc., it designates the fractions 3/2, /3, 5/4, etc."
The inverted fractions are indicated by the prefix sub; e.g., proportio subsesquioctava means 8:9.
15
Multiplex dup'Ia , the simplest of the proportions, is the ra ti 0 "betv/een 12 and 6. This is called dupla because it is reducible to 2:1 or 2/1. It will be noticed that when expressed as 1:2 or 1/2 it is called subdupla. Other multiplex and submultiplex proportions used on the monochord are, in their reduced for.ms: 3:1, tripla; 1:3, subtripla; 4:1, quadrupla; and 1:4, subquadrupla. The superparticular and subsuperparticular proportions are: 9:6 (12:8) as sesquialtera "(3:2), or 6:9 (8:12) as subsesquialtera (2:3); 8:6 (12:9) as sesquitertia (4:3), or 6:8 (9:12) as subsesquitertia (3:4); 9:8 as sesquioctava, or 8:9 as subseso:i1:'..~ oc bava . These proportions furnished the Pythagoreans with the four intervals represented in Diagram 2, that is, dupla as the diapason, sesquialtera as the diapente, sesquitertia as the diatessaron, and sesqu1 octava as the tone. The sesqu1tertia proportion is often represented by the Greek word epitritos and the sesquioctava proportion by the Greek epogdous.
Vlhether an oc tave, for example, is expressed as dupla (that is, by doubling a given length of string) or
as subdupla (that is, by halving a given length of string), and whether the other proportions are expressed with their larger ter.ms first or last (e.g., 3:2 or 2:3 or 3/2 or 2/3), may seem of small import at this timejbut a clear
16
understanding of the relationships of both kinds of proportions to interval production is necessary for understanding all kinds of monochord divisions. The application of these proportions to a tensioned string results in a manual· division of the string. A manualdlvislon may be here defined as a linear mechanical operation performed upon the monochord or upon a representation of the monochord. The manual division is the only kind of monochord division of any musical importance in Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
System ~ String Lengths
Because of the cumbersomeness of the proportional system and the inaccuracies of the manual division, same investigators used the system of string lengths, a system which found its greatest favor in the postmedieval period, in place of the manual division. If, for example, a string is assigned a length of 10,000 units of measurement, its upper octave would be regarded as having a length of 5,000 units. This system is most effective as an accurate, though simple, ·system of abstract representation. It is, however, not easily applicable to physical reproduc tion of pi tches upon an actual monochord.
17
System of Cents ,
A nineteenthcentury addition to the other two methods of acoustical representation is the system of cents. Introduced by Alexander Ellis, it has been widely adopted
as the standard means of interval representation. The cent is defined as one onehundredth of a semi tone of the equallytempered scale; thus a samitone equals 100 cents, and an octave equals 1,200 cents. Some modern writers
apply the system of cents to all acoustical representations, thereby providing a unifonn 'basis for the comparison of intervals. However, the end result of a monochord division is often not as important or interesting from ~~e historical poi~t of view as the means by which it is attained. The manifold monochord divisions of the Middle Ages are all different and all interesting, but all utilize the same four proportions (dupla, sesquialtera, sesquitertia, sesquioctavo), and in the end achieve approximately the same result. Therefore, in order that one may best understand the Greek and medieval approach to the study of music through the monochord, and perhaps ga Ln an insight into
the peculiarities of the medieval mind, all divisions in this period, as well as other periods, will be exa~ined,
8,S far as is .feasible, in t..'I1e light of their own times, while representation of intervals by cents will be ltmited
18
to those treatises which utilized tW.s system at their inception.
The !tianual Technigue of the Monochord
=== = === ========
~~e technique of the monochord as represented by the manual division of the string is divided into three categories: the first comprises diatonic divisions made up of superparticular proportions that can be applied to'
the monochord by means of a compass; the second comprises
the varied methods of adding chromatic semi tones to a diatonic division and, as an extension of this technique, of proportionally dividing an interval into more than two equal parts; the third comprises divisions whose notes are determined mathematically in ter.ms of string lengths and applied to the monochord by means of a ruler. Of these classifications, the first represents all of the monochord divisions of the Greek, medieval and early Renaissance periods. The second was used mainly in the Renaissance era and the third is the main method of the postRenaissance period. Since the manner of dividing a monochord by means of the system of string lengths and a ruler (the third category) is selfexplanatory, it will not be dealt with further in this section. The techniques of the other two categories will be presented, not as specific divisions
19
of a particular tuning, but as general concepts necessary to a full understanding of the instrument.
The Manual Division of Diatonic ~erparticular Tunings
The manual divisions of the monochord in the Greek
and medieval eras are based upon an extension of the super
particular relationships discussed in the preceding section (i.e., dupla, sesquialtera, sesquitertia, sesquioctava). In
analyzing a given division one will notice that it is usually based on a preponderance of either superparticular proportions or subsuperparticular proportions. The initial note of a division based on a plurality of superparticular proportions is found as a part of the total length of the
string, and the remaining notes are determined, not in rela
tion to the length of the entire string, but in relation to the string length of the initial note. Divisions using mainly subsuperparticular proportions usually have the total length of the string as the initial note and the succeeding notes are related to this length.
Thus the descending division will contain a majority of divisions of the chosen length of the string into 3 and
8 parts, while the initial division of the ascending division is contingent upon measurements of the whole string into 4 and 9 parts. For example, if a,given portion of
20
the string's length is divided into 8 parts, a tone may be produced by adding one of these parts to the eight, making nine, which gives a superpartlcular proportion of 9:8 (sesquioctava). Conversely, if the string lensth is divided into 9 parts, one part must be subtracted in order to pro~ duce the tone, which will be in a subsesquioctava (8:9) proportion. The note resulting fram the ·sesquioctava division (9: 8) will be a tone lower tnan the fundamental tone, and the resultant note of the subsesquioctava division (8:9) will be a step higher. In the same manner, a sesquitertia proportion (4:3) will gener~te a note a fourth lower, and the subsesquitertia proportion will produce a note a fourth higher. This principle is, of course, also applicable to the other superparticular proportions and to the multiplex proportions.
The end result of ~ese two types of division is either a descending or an ascending division of the string. When one utilizes the superparticular proportions, the division proceeds in a descending manner, that is, from the highersounding pitches to the lower, through the use of longer and longer portions of the string. The use of a subsuperparticular proportion produces an ascending division, with shorter and shorter portions of the string. A division may also utilize both types of proportions, in
21
which case it may be said to be an alternating division. However, since any division must consist of a majority of ascending or descending divisions (depending on the first division), it may be classed as an a1ternatingdescending or an alternatingascending division.
As a means of clarification, the two following div:l,sions for determining the notes of a tetrachord are offered. ~le first proceeds in a descending manner,· the second in an ascending manner. It will be noticed in the course of the division that the descending division has its semi tone between the lower· tv:~o pi bche s , and tha. t the semi tone of the ascending division appears between the upper two pitches. This arrangement of the tetrachord is a result of the method of determining the semi tone, since the simplest method of finding the Pythagorean semi tone is to subtract two whole tones fram the diatessaron (four~~).
The descending division for determining the ~trachord. (For this demonstration a point 25 cm. fram the end of a onemeter string has been selected.) The first note will have a sow1ding length of 25 cm. By taking a sesquioctava proportion (9:8) to this pitch, one will find the second pi tch of the tetrachord, a whole tone lower. TW.s second pitch will have as tts sounding length a string 28.125 cm , long.
22
9
8 x 25 cm. = 28.125 cm.
The third pitch may be found in the same manner, that is, by means of a s3Rquioctava proportion to the second pitch. Its string length will be 31.641 cm.
9
8 x 28.125 cm. = 31.641 cm.
The fourth pitch is found by means of a sesquitertia proportion (4:3) to the first pitch and would have a sounding length of 33.333 cm.
~ x 25 cm. = 33.333 cm.
The division of the tetrachord may be summarized thus:
.. Pi tch 4 3 2 1
String
length 33.333 cm. 31.641 cm. 28.125 cm. 25.00 err.. •
Proportion 25611 Jl.. .a
243 8 8
Interval semitone tone tone 11. The ratio of the Pythagorean semi tone (256:243) is not directly applicable to the manual division, since any mechanical division of the string into 243 and 256 units would be grossly tmpractical. This ratio is found as a sort of byp~oduct by subtracting the sum of the two whole tones \ ~x ~ _ ~ ) from the fourth
( 4 • 81 _ 243 ). 8 8  64
l5 ~ 64  256 Procedures such as this illustrate
a cardinal principle of monochord division: complex ratios are'deteI~ined by calculation with simnle ratios. The corollarI to this principle' is tnat in most theoretical writ ngs all ratiosL both stmple and complex, are basically associated wivh mathematical
calculation rather than with measurement.
23
The ascending division for determining the tetrachord. For this division the entire sounding length
of the monochord r s string {lmeter} may be used for the
first pitch. The second pitch is found by means of a sub. sesquioctava. proportion (8:9) to the first pitch; thus
the second pitch has a length of 88.889 cm •
. ·100 cm , x ~= 88.889 cm ,
The third pitch is sUbsesquioetava to the second and has as its length, 79.023 em.
88.889 cm. x ~ = 79.023 cm.
The fourth pi tch is subsesqui tertia to the first pi tch and has a length of 75 em.
100 cm. x i = 75 cm.
This division may be summarized thus:
Pitch 1 2 3 4
Length 100.00 cm. 88.889 cm. 79.023 cm. 75.00 cm •
Proportion 8 8 243
9 9 
256
Interval tone tone semi tone The completion of either this division or the de
scending division in the manner of the Middle Ages would result in a twooctave scale whose lowest note would be
the entire length of the string. The ascending division
24
begins with this lowest note, but the descending division begins with a note two octaves higher than the fundamental pitch of the string. The proportion of the double octave
is quadrupla (4:1) and it is for this reason that a point
25 cm.·fram the end of a one~eter string was chosen for
the example of the descending division. A manual division of the monochord done in this manner, that is, by using only sesquioctava and sesquitertia proportions, will provide a Pythagorean tuning of the scale. In observing only the completed division, one is not able to distinguish between ascending and descending divisions, since their only difference is in the manner of deter.mination.
These two kinds of division, ascending and descending, exerted great influence upon the development of Western music. In general it may be said that Greek writers up to A.D. 500 utilized the descending division; medieval scholars used both ascending and descending divisions; and later
wri ters (Renaissance and postRenaissance) preferred the ascending division. The specific reasons for these usages will become apparent in the ensuing chapters.
The Manual D1 Vision of the Chroma tic Scale
There are three methods of deter.mining samitones by means of the manual division of the monochord: an
25
extension of the superparGicular ratios, an arithmetical division of the tone, and a meanproportional division of th.e tone.
In superparticular tunings one has the option of dividing to produce either of two complete and different (d1.fferent even for notes which are "enharm ond,c equivalents") sets of chromatic notes. These are obtained
from subsesquialtera proportions as ascending perfect fifths from Bnatural, or fram sesquialtera proportions as descending perfect fifths from F. This phenomenon is due to the idiosyncrasies of the superparticular tunings and will be discussed in detail in Chapters III and IV. In this study the ascending samitones are called sharp semi tones
and the descending semitones are called flat semi tones.
Arit~etic semi tones are deter.mined by an equal division of the difference between the string lengths of two given notes. Even though the resulting samitones are of unequal size, this method was frequently used in the post~aedieval period.
Equal semi tones are determined from meanproportional s tr~.ng lengths and are usually found by means of the Euclidean oonstruction. This geometric construction of the semi tone is determined by describing a semicircle upon the sum of the string lengths of two notes taken as a diameter,
26
and then erecting a perpendicular at the juncture of the two lengths; ~he length of this perpendicular is the string length of the meanproportional note. In the following diag~ (Diagram. 3) the string lengths of the hI0 given notes are AB and Be; the string length of the proportional note is BD.
Diagram 3. The Euclidean construction.
AL __ ~e~c
AB BO
9~
The Euclidean construction is effective for find
ing one mean proportional, but in order to determine more
than one proportional string length, one needs to resort
27
to a more complicated device such as the mesolabium. The
mesolabium, also of Greek invention, consists of a series of square frames (Fig. 1, Diagram 4), contrived so as to allow them to be overlapped and pushed together (Fig. 2). James Gow, in his Short History £! Greek Mathematics, has clearly explained the operation of this device:
If AD, GH be the two lines between which it is required to find two mean proportionals, then slide the second frame under the first and the third under the second so tha t AG shall pass through the points C, E, at which the diameters of the second and third frames, respectively, cease to be visible. Then CDi EF are the required two mean proportionals. 2
This device may be used to find any number of mean proportionals between two lines by merely increasing the number
of frames.
While the mesolabium and other geometrical methods of deter.mining mean prcportionals arA not frequently encountered in connection with the monochord,13 they are often used in placinG the frets on stringed instruments. Murray
12. James Gow, A Short Historl of Greek Mathematics (London: cambridge universIIy Press, 1884), 245246.
13. Besides the mesolabium, which was used by Zarlino
( p. 260, below), apparently only two other geometrical methods of finding multiple mean propo:cionals were used on the monochord. These are described on pp.263 and 266, below.
28
Diagram 4. The mesolabium.
Barbour, in his Tuning ~ Temperarrlent, briefly describes many of the alternate systems of determining mean proportionals.14
14. J.MUl'I9Y Barbour, Tuning and Temperament (East tensing: Michigan Staterrol1ege Press, 1951), Chapter IV.
29
Methods ~ Representing Monochord Divisions
Because the monochord of the Greek and medieval periods was almost always employed as a didactic device,
its users attempted to make the division as effici.ent and as accurate as possible. The efficiency of a monochord division depends on the relation between the number of separate measurements made and the number of notes produced. For example, a division that will produce 15 pitches in 7 measurement.s is much more efficient than a division that needs 17 measurements to produce 15 pitches.
The results of these efforts are particularly noticeable after 1450, since after this time each new division often produced a new variation of a given tun:l.ng. In many cases it was indeed the desire of the musician to change the tuning, but in not a few of these cases, the
muat cf.en only desired a simpler method of division. It would seem that the appearance of an altered tuning bothered the Renaissance musician little, for in view of the inaccuracy of the monochord, a variation of a few cents (in some cases as much as 22 cents) was a small sacrifice to pay
for a more efficient division. A case in point is Ramos
30
de Pareia,15 who stated that 'the Pythagorean tuning is "useful and plellsing for the theorists, but tiresome for singers and irksome to the mind. But because we have promised to satisfy both [singers and theorist~, we shall simplify the division of the mOl1ochord." Later he stated:
IISO therefore we have made all our divisions very easy, because the fractions are common and not difficult. ,,16
Murray Barbour takes this to mean the t "His reason for maki~~g the new division was solely to simplify the cons truction Q..e., divisiori] of the monochord.,,17 In many cases this desire is not overtly stated, as it was by Rrunos, but it lnay be suspected that it served as the underlying cause of many of the new till1ings of the Renaissance and succeed
ing periods.
Therefore, in addition to the efficiency of a division (the relationship of the number of measurements to the number of pitches produced), a second criterion of a good division is how closely it approx~ates the musical or acoustical result desired by its author. In other words,
15. Bartolcme Bs.mos de Pare ia, Musi ca Prac tica (1482), ed. Johannes Wolf (Leipzig: Breitkopf und H!rtel, 1901), 60.
16. Barbour, ££. cit., 91. The brackets are Barbour's.
17. Ibid.
31
does a given division achieve accuracy as well as efficiency, or is one sacrificed for the other? It is not, however, the intention of this writer to pass judgment upon these pOints, but only to provide a logical basis upon which
the reader can make his own decision.
The best path to an understanding of the monochord would be to have the reader actually divide the monochord according to the verbal directions of the author, as was done by the users of the original treatises. Since this is impractical, a diagrammatic procedure will be used throughout this study. 1he following is an explanation of this
procedure.
In the older writings, directions for dividing the
monochord are usually presented in a verbal manner, similar
to the following:
The ends of the string as determined by the fixed bridges are marked AB. AB is the Proslambananenos.18 Onehalf of AB is CB. CB is the Mese. Onehalf of CB is DB. DB is the Nete Hyperbolaion. DB is divided into 8 parts. One of these parts added to DB gives EB. EB is the Paranete Hyperbo1aion.
From this one can see that a set of verbal directions, unless followed mechanically, can be confusing. Same
18. The Proslambanamenos, as the lowest note in the Greek Greater Perfect System, means "added," but it is used by these writers to mean the total length of the string.
32
c cmmerrta torfJ have reduced these direc tions to a series of
equations. For instance:
AB is the length of the string. tAB=CB. CB=Mese. ~B=DB. DB=Nete Hyperbolaion. 1/8 DBfDb=EB. EB:Paranete Hyperbolaion.
This kind of direction is simple, as is a linear representation of the monochord (Diagram 5), but neither ldnd allows the reader to see quickly and easily the direction and efficiency of the division.
Diagr.am 5. Linear representation of a monochord division.
AI
c
I
E 0
I I
B I
As an alternative to these plans, the following diagram (Diagram 6) will be utilized from time to t~e to explain prototypes. By using a series of perallel lines
to represent successive measurements, one can easily show
the relation of these measurements to the whole string. The measurement of the superparticular division, that is, those producing lower pitches, are numbered fran right to
33
Diagram 6. Sample diagr~ of a monochord division.
A c. E 0
,..... ..    +·t+~8
I I
St~ps p .. opo,.t .on.
f t=' ...__ ~c~ J.= _:8~' t
z. c. D
t.···4 ,.z. *
+~'~"I'ISt't~ i
3
....  
left (see step 3 of Diagram 6); subsuperparticuls.r divisions (producing higher pitches) are numbered from left to right (steps 1 and 2 of Diagram 6). The linear representation of the complete division is presented on the top line of the diagram. The particular measurement of each step
is li sted under IIproportionS' at the r1gh t end of each
line. By observing the completed diagram one can
quickly ascertain the most important facts concerning a division. This representation has the added virtue of
34
visually showing the ascending or descending nature of th.e division.19
When viewing the various aspects of a monochord
div:i.s:l on, one should keep in mind the main things pertinen t to a discussion of the monochord:
1. The efficiency and accuracy of the division.
2. The kind of scalar tuning or temperament produced.
3. The uses of the comyleted monochord.
Conclusions based on these points will enable the reader to observe the changes that occurred in the use of the monochord and the effect that these changes had on the music of Western civilization.
19. This diagram is designed mainly to represent divisions consisting of superparticular proportions in which
the manner of division and not the end result is of more interest. The manual process of divisions determined by means of arithmetical divisions, mean proportionals, and mathematically calculated string lengths is not as important as the kind or tunlng
or temperament produced; for this reuson this kind
of division is not suited to the diagrrun. Instead
or trying to represent it by this method, it will
be presented in the manner used by its author.
35
Chapter II
THE MONOCHORD IN THE GREEK ERA
Greek Musical Writings fram About 500 ~C. to ~ 500
The main period of Greek influence upon the development of the monochord encompasses approximately 1,000 years. The writers of musical treatiaes in this millennium may be divided into two groups, of which the first belongs to the period before the birth of Christ, and the second to the first five hundred years of our era. The chief members of the first group, men who were instrumental in developing
the basic outlines of Greek philosophy and mathematics, are Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Aristoxenus and Euclid. The secor.d group  composed mainly of Plutarch, TIleon of Sr;;.yrnaus, Aris tides Quintilianus, Nicomachus of Oe ra aa , Cleonides, Gaudentius, Ptolemy, Porphyry, Bakchieos the Elder, and the author of a treatise of uncertain date, published by Beller.man and known as the treatise o~ Bellerman's
Anonymous expanded and preserved the basic concepts set
forth by the first group.
Pyt:, ',' ,_I")r3 SIS teachings are available to the modern reader only throueh the writings of his disciples. The fragments of P~tlolaus (~. 450 B.C.) are the earliest
36
1
surviving accounts of the Pythagorean doctrines. The works
of Plato (427347 B.C.) contain many passages that present the ethical and philosophical side of music, a.nd are intimately involv~d with Pythagorean numbersymbolism. nLe practical uses of music are described by Aristotle (384322 B.C.) in his J.!etaphysics. None of these writers, however, offers such specific informa tion on the intervall1.c theories of the Pythagoreans as one finds in the Sectio canonis of Euclid (~. 300 B.C.).
The symbolic~athematical concepts of interval structure presented by the Pythagoreans was opposed by Aristoxenus (born ca. 354 B.C.), who, in his HarmoniCS, advocated an intervallic system based on musical practice. These are the essential differences in the two philosophies: the Pythagoreans directed their attention to the formation
of musical intervals by means of mathematical ratiOS, often
to the exclusion of aesthetic considerations; on the other band, the Aristoxenians regarded the ear as the final judge, not only of musical practice, but in theoretical details as well •. In a discussion of Ptolemy's Harmonics,
2
J. F. Mountford points out that:
1.
Vincent Hopper, Medieval Number S~bOlism (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1938), 4.
J. F. Mountford, "The Harmonics of Ptclemy," Transactions of the American Philological ASSOCiation, LVI! (1926);73.
2.
37
The Pythagoreans were inclined to find ra·tios where they did not exist, and to obtain the results they expected in spite of tmperfections in their method and equipment, and in defiance of the evidence of their senses. The Aristoxenians went astray as soon as they touched upon the disoords, and their characteristic dogma that an octave contains six tones was quite properly the object of Pythagorean derision.3
Musical writers of the early Christian era reflect the opposing theories expounded by Aristoxenus and Euclid. The Pythagorean musical philosophies are transmitted mainly hy Theon of' Smyrna.us (£!.. 125: Expositio rerum mathemat1cum), Aristides Quintilianus (firstsecond century:
De musical, Ptolemy (second century: Harmonics), and Porphyry (third century: Connnentary on Ptolemy's Ha.nnonics). The Aristoxenian doctrines were propounded by Cleonides (second century: Isagoge harmonica), and Bakchieos the Elder (fourth century: Introductio artis musicae). A more neu·tral posi tion, that is, a partial presents tion of both philosophies, is given by Gaudentius (second century:
3.
Aristoxenus defines the tone as the difference between a fourth and a fifth (cf. H. S. Macran, The Harmonics of Aristoxenus [Oxford, 190~, 180). The ratio ot: tIlis tone is 9:8. When this ratio is raised to the sixth power (i.e., when six such tones are added together) it gives a ratio that is a comma (531441: 524288) greater than the ratio of the octave (2:1):
(9)6 _ 531441 ! 2 : 531441
8  262144 • 1 524288
38
Introductio harmonica), and to same extent by Aristides Quintilianus. Plutarch (£!. 50100) and Bellerman's Anonymous do not seem to subscribe to either philosophy.
The above listing comprises most of the known sources dealing wi th the theoretical"aspects of Greek music up to the time of Boethius, and of these men only Euclid, Theon, Aristides, Nicomachus, Gaudentius and Ptolemy give specific information about the monochord. Many of these works reach us, not as the direct product of musical
prac tn.ce , but as a historical ccmpilation of beliefs gleaned from an oral tradition that extended back to Pythagoras, and rrom selections made from other tracts
that are no longer extant. This paucity of material coupled with the procrustean treatment accorded it by some commentators creates an entanglement of details not unlike the Cretan maze. In his introduction to Greek acoustical
theory, Gustave Reese quotes a disillusioned Professor
of Greek who said: "Nobody has ever made head or tail of
Greek music, and nobody ever will. That way madness lies. ,,4
4. Gustave Reese, Music in the Middle Ages (New York: w. W. Norton and do.,r94nT, 20.
39
The Greek Musical System
The whole of the Greek musical practice can be conveniently discussed in reference to th~ Greater Perfect System. By disregarding differences in intonation, the intervallic structure of the system may be approximately
5 expressed in terms of the modern twooctave scale Aa'.
The Greater Perfect System was based on four tetrachords which in practice were determined fram the highest to the lowest pitch. Each tetrachord was made up of a succession of four descending notes which, in the basiC diatonic pattern, formed the intervals T T S (tone, tone, semitone). The four tetrachords of the system were named, in descending order: Tetrachordon Hyperbolaion, Tetrachordon Diezeugmenon, Tetrachordon Meson, and Tetrachordon Hypaton. The Greater Perfect System was completed by the addition
of an extra note at the bottom of the scale, called the
Proslambanamenos.
The syste:~. evolved so tha t the middle two tetrachords (Diezeugmenon and Meson) were placed in a disjunct
5. In connection with th.e monochord the intervallic structure of the Greater Perfect System is called a minor disdiapason by this writer (meaning that the succession of notes resemble a modern natural minor scale). A twooctave scale containing maj or Lns tread of minor thirds is called a major disdiapason by the writer.
40
position, that is, separated by a tone. For practical considerations, such as the normal voice range and the range of the instruments, these two tetrachords served as the focal pOint of the system. The two outer tetrachords of the system were conjunctly joined to the two central tetrachords, that is, through common notes. Table 1 shows the relative positions of the tetrachords of the Greater Perfect System. The names of the individual pitches were deter.mined in part by the name of the tetrachord and in part by the position within the tetrachord.
Table 1. The Greater Perfect System
Nete Hyperbolaion Paranete Hyperbolaion Trite Hyperbolaion Nete Diezeugmenon Paranete Diezeugmenon Trite Diezeugmenon Paramese
Tetrachordon Hyperbolaion
Tetrachordon Diezeugmenon
Tetracnordon Meson
Tetrachordon Hypaton
A
Mese
Lichanos Meson Parhypate Meson Hypate Meson Lichanos Hypaton Parhypate ~ypaton Hypate Hypaton
Proslambanamenos
41
For purposes of modulation there also existed a Lesser Perfect system that was constructed from the lower two tetrachords (Hypaton and Meson), plus a third tetrachord connected conjunctly to the Mese. This tetrachord
was called Synemmenon and provided the notes a, b, c, and d6 in the customary S T T arrangement. The Tetrechordon Synemmenon is shown in Table 2.
6. In this study all scalar representations will be
given with the lowest pitch at the left and will be read in ascending pitch order from. left to right. or, as in Table 1, they will have the lowest pitch at the bottom and will be read in ascending order from bottom to top. TP~s standardization of procedure does not imply ascending determination of the scale, i.e., fram lowest to highest pitch, since in all cases the direction of determination will be made apparent.
Wherever pitches are designated by letter in this study (as in Table 1), the system ascribed to Odo, which became standard after the tenth century, will be used, not only since it would seem. appropriate to the greater part of the study, but because it may avoid confusion on the part of the reader who turns fran this work to the original sources.
Odo's system uses a double set of seven letters (AG and ag, plus aa) to represent the two main octaves
of the Greater Perfect System or in the modern sense Aa'. Notes occurring in the third octave will be represented by a continuation of the double letters, i.e., aa bb,qq, cc , etc. This system also uses b (bmolle) to represent Bflat and q (bquadratum) to represent Bnatural (See Willi Apel, The Notation of PolyphoniC Music, 4th ed . @ambriqge,llass.: TheMediaevai Academy of America, 195~ , 21, for further discussion of the evolution of ~~e Bflat and Bnatural). The reader will note the use of the b (for Bf1at) in Table 2 and also in the discussion of the Tetrachordon Synemmenon above. Many sets of directions for the di vj,sion of the monochord utilize a different set of letters for the pitches AG and ag. In these cases the relationships of the pitch names will be dealt with on an individual basis.
42
Table 2. Tetrachordon Synemmenon
Tetrachordon Synemmenon
c Paranete Synemmenon b 7 Trite Synennnenon
d Net~ Synemmenon
a Mese
It was possible to alter the pitch of tne two inner notes of· each tetrachord, thus providing a means of varlation from the fundamental S T T arrangement (see fn. ~ ,
p. 41) of each tetrachord. These two variable notes were called Kinoumenoi ("movable"). The two outer notes, however, were considered to be invariable in their relation
to one another and were designated Hestotes ("fixed").
The variability of relationship of the inner notes of a tetrachord provided tbrde main types of tetrachords, collectively called genera. These three geners. of the tetrachord were named diatonic, chromatic and enharmonic.
Many sources designate a genus by placing gre8test emphasis on the size of the lower intervals. Thus the diatonic genus is said to contain a semi tone at the bottom, with the remaining space filled by two tones: the chro
matic, two semitones, plus a remainin: interval of three semi tones; the enharmonic, two quarter tones plus a ditone. A comparison of the many variants of each genus shows,
7. See explanation on p , 41, 1'n. 6.
43
however, that, within lfmits, the upper interval in the enharmonic and chromatic genera and the upper two intervals in the diatonic se~ to be the real determinants of genus. In a tabulation of all of the variants l:tsted by Ptolemy, J. F. Mountford shows that in most of the determina t5.ons
of the enharmonic genus the main fe·a ture was the maj or
third with a ratio of 5:4; in the chromatic genus, the minor third with the ratio of 6:5 was the most common; and in the diatonic, the two whole tones ranged in size from 10:9 to 8:7. Therefore he concludes that "firstly, the distinction of genus depends essentially on the size of the largest interval and secondly, as far as the smaller intervals are concerned, one genus merged imperceptibly into another."a
Of the three genera, the oldest was probably the enharmoniC, anL historical sources indicate that it was
also the first to fall into disuse. The reasons given for its gradual extinction are named by Macran as the difficulty of determination of the quarter tones, and the fineness of ear and voice required to perform it.9 Aristoxenus
8. J. F. Mountford, "The Musical Scales of Plato's Republic,!1 The Classical g,uarterly, XVII (1923), 125136. Seepo 13:3 of Mountford's article for a more detailed explanation and comparison of the intervals.
9. H. S. Macran, The Harmonics of Aristoxenus (Oxford, 1902), 247.
44
points out that by 300 B.C. it was little used, having been superseded in practice, first by the chromatic and then by the diatonic genus. The theor~.sts, however, continued to give explanations and ratios for the enharmonic genus. For example, Ptolemy gives a total of twenty variants of the three genera, selected by Archytas, Eratosthetfes, Didymus, Aristoxenus, and himself. The variants of these scales represent Ptolemy's interpretation of what each of the above authorities thought was a typical tetrachord of each genus, and as Mountford notes, there were actually an indeterminate number of combinations.lO
The disappearance of the enharmonic genus fran musical practice is reflected in the srr.all number of sur
viving interval determinations for this genus. Except
for the five variants given by Ptolemy, no sets of directi ons for de termining thi s genus ·by means of the monochord are known to have existed among the Greeks. However, the lack of historical preoedent diu not prevent medieval theorists from providing lavish discussions of this genus in the sections of their treatises dealing with the monochord.
10. Mountford, "Musical Scales," 133.
45
The theories of the Pythagoreans and the Aristoxenians diverged not only in their determination of the number of notes in the octave, but also in the means of visually or aurally representing these notes. The Pythagoreans, relying heavily upon the ma~ematical determination of intervals, utilized the monochord to represent these intervals, whereas the Aristoxenians, depending upon the ear, represented intervals by means of fractions. The Aristoxenian method was based upon the division of a large interval into segments. By equating the smaller intervals to a certain number of these segments these theorists arrived at a fractional equivalent for each of the intervals contained within the larger interval. In the diatonic genus a tetrachord divided into thirty parts had its tones equated to twelve parts and its semitone equated to six parts. The tetrachord may be represented by a line (Diagram 7) and the segments by parts of a line.ll This kind of representation is at best only an apprOximation, and is not directly applicable to a length of string,
11. Macran, £E. cit., 249.
46
Diagram 7. The Ar1stoxenian division of the tetrachord.
since the a~dition of equal ~~its of length does not bring 12
about similar increments of pitch. 
Pythagoras had discovered that onehalf (subdupla) of a vibrating string produced the octave; twothirds (subsesquialtera) produced a fifth; threefourt~~ (subsesquitertia), a fourth; and conversely, onethird (tripla) produced a twelfth, and onefourth (quadruple), the double octave (also called the quadruplum). These ratios provided the calculations for the Restotes of the Greater Perfect
12. This system, like the system of cents, requires logarithmic calculation before it can be applied
to a string. Equally tempered tones are given equal values of 200 cents each, but two consecutive equal divisions of the string will not produce two consecutive equal tones. For example, on a one4neter string the difference of lengths (as related to the whole string) required for two consecutive whole tones are not equal portions of the string, but are approximately 11 cm. for the first and 9.7
for the second. Thus, consecutive equal wholetones require consecutive equal proportions.
47
System, i.e., Nete Hyperbolaion, Nete Diezeugmenon, Parame se , Mese, Hypate Meson, and Hypate Hypaton. The other necessary intervals of the scale were found by means of
superpositions of the fifth.
The tone was found by adding two fifths, whose sum differed from the octave by a ratio of 9:8:
3 2. 2
('2) : I : 9:8
The Pythagorean major sixth was the difference between
the sun of three fifths and the octave:
(3)3.:_ 2  27:16
2 • I 
The Pythagorean major third was the difference between the
sum OoL four fifths and the sum of two oc taves: The Pythagorean major seventh was the difference between the sum of five fifths and the sum of three octaves:
35•
() 
2 •
{I2)3
: 243:128
other Pythagorean intervals of same importance . are the apotane and the Pythagorean comma. The apotome
is the difference between the Pythagorean semi tone (limma, 1ehmna) and the tone:
9 8
•
256  243 
2187:2048
•
48
This interval is also the difference between the Pythagorean minor third (32:27) and two tones, as well as the difference between the sum of seven fifths and four octaves.
The Pythagorean comma is the difference between the limma (semitone) and the apotome:
256 2187 243 : 2m
= 531441:524288
This comma is also the difference between:
three Pythagorean major thirds (81:64) and one octave; four Pythagorean minor thirds (32:2~and one octave; twelve fifths and seven octaves;
twelve fourths and five octaves;
13 six tones and one octave.
From the existing sources it is difficult to ascertain the extent of practical usage of the variants of the genera, but it is apparent that most of them were not included in the writings of the theorists in any form except that of a mathematical ratio. These sources show that, with the exception of the division of ~~e chromatic genus by Theon, the Pythagorean diatonic scale with intervals of
13. See the discussion of this latter difference as a point of contention between the Pythagoreans and Aristoxenians, p. 37. A more detailed explanation of the various methods of calculating these intervals may be found in Wilhelm Dupont, Geschichte der musika1ischen Temperatur (Kassel: BHrenreiter, ffi5J, 2ft.
49
9:8 (tone) and 256:243 (semitone) is the only scalar division that was employed by the Greeks in conjunction with
the monochord.
Greek Divisions of the Monochord


The two methods of dividing the monochord found in Greek writings are the manual division and the system of
'4
string lengths. Of these two, the manual division is
the older since" it is supposed to have originated wi th Pythagoras, while the other system is a product of the first or second century of our era. Even after the introduction of the stringlengths system the manual division was still the only musically significant method of dividing
the monochord, since the measurement of the monochord by
the system of string lengths was considered to be of Ii ttle practical value. The Greek development of the manual divislon produced the basic techniq~e for all future divisions of the instrument.
The manual divisiJn of the monochord stems fram
Pythagoras's discovery of the proportional relationships of the consonances. The method of demonstrating the
14. See this writer's definitions of these methods on p. 16, above.
50
consonances attributed to Pythagoras by Gaudentius is but an extension of the principles of the harmonic and arith
metic means. T.~e relations of these means is made clear
in Gaudentius's description of Pythagoras's technique in which a string 1s divided into twelve parts so that the diapason is six parts, the diatessaron nine pa~ts, and the
dia.pente eight:
15
He stretched a string over a canon and
divided it into twelve parts. ~e sounded the entire length and then the half, i.e., six parts, and found the whole to be consonant to the half a t the 9C tave [subdupla]. Af'ter thi s he again sounded the whole and threefourths and recognized the diatessaron [subsesquitertia]. As
he sounded the whole and eight parts [twothird~ he found the diapente [subsesquialtera]. The remaining proportions he ascertained in a similar manner.16
15. The word Hcanon," defined in Liddell and Scott's GreekEnglish Lexicon (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1846), 703, as meaning "made by rule," or more specifically "in theoretical music, a rule by which the notes of the scale are measured," is found in all of the Greek sources dealing with the monochord. In many of these sources it is used synonymously with the word monochord. In its strictest sense, however, it seems reserved for in structions on dividing the string, or for the diagram that is to be placed under the string to facilitate the exact placement of the bridge, just as the word monochord, in its strictest sense, is reserved for reference to the instrument.
16. Gaudentius, Introductio harmonica, Bk. I, 14, Latin trans. in Meiban, Aritiquae muslcae, 2 vols. {Amstelodam1: Elzevlrium, 1652} , I.
51
Nicamachus of Gerasa describes the smne kind of
demonstration. Although he does not utilize the exact numbers of 68912, his account of Pythagoras's discovery of ~le proportional values of the consonances by means of the hammers (quoted earlier, pp. 89 ) assures us that he was aware of their sigrificance. Theon of Smyrnaus also s:lmilarly discussed the proportions of the consonances, as found in the canon, in the twelfth chapter of ius Expositio
17 rerum mathe.maticum.
A variation of this method of demonstrating the consonances is desc~ibed by Ptolemy. In the eighth chapter of the First Book of the Harmonics, he writes:
A string stretched over the canon will show the proportion of all consonances in the best and most accurate manner. This is not accomplished by means of any given tension [pi tCh],' but by means of the succeeding explanation, according to which no inaccuracies can creep in.lS
After describing the physical properties of the instrument, he gives the method of finding the consonances by means
of the movab.l,e bridge. He establishes the length of t...'l1.e string as ~G, divides it in half at K, and divides KG in
18.
Sigfrid Wantzloeben, Das Monochord als Instrument und als System (Halle: Enrnardt KB:rras;I911), 13. 
Ingemar Dfiring, Ptolemaios und POrPh!riOS tiber die Musik (t18teborg: Elanders,J:934), 3. 
17.
52
half to provide LG (Diagram 8). After again emphasizing the equality of the string's two halves by means of the unison (EK=l: KGl), he completes the demonstration by moving the bridge in successive stages to the right from K to L. Thus when EK stands in the proportion of 4:3 to KG, it produces the fourth; when EK is in the proportion of 3:2 to KG it sounds the fifth; when EK is twice as long as KG it sounds the octave; when El{ equals eight parts and KG three, the sound produced is the eleventh; when m\ is three times as long as KG, the string will sound the twelfth; and when EK stands in the proportion of 4:1 to KG, the sound produced will be the fifteenth, or the double octave.19
Diagram 8. A linear representation of Ptolemy's monochord.
19. Ibid., 3637.
53
Although Ptolemy's system is accurate, it cannot be said to be any more so than the metllod attributed to Pythagoras b~ Gaudentius. Ptolemy's system is also difficult to construct, since it requires measurements of the
20
string into 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 11 parts, whereas
Gaudentius's Pythagorean division needs only one ~velve
part measurement to show all the consonances. Tne inclusion of the tone (9:8) in this system would necessitate
a seventeenpart division, which is perhaps why Ptolemy
21
avoided it. He did, however, devise a less complicated
manner of arriving at the tone. Tnrough the use of a
geometrical structure which he called the helicon (Diagram 9), he was aole to illustrate the consonances by means of intersecting straight lines and to show the relative string lengths for each pitch. This device
is also important to a discussion of the monochord
20. This kind of division of the string was also used by many later writers.
21. Several medieval theorists beginning with Boethius (ca. 480529) included the seventeenpart division o~the tone (9:8). Atbanasius Iarcher extended the technique to include all sorts of intervals for which he used a string divided into 256 parts. (Note: Although Kircher was a seventeenthcentury theorist, his ideas on the monochord belong essentially to the Renaissance, and will be discussed in that context. See p. 255 ff.)
54
Diagram 9. Ptolemy's first helicon.
A
£
L
F
[~
K M
o
because of the practical application that he made of its principles (Diagram 10).22 The side of the square AC represents the fundamental. The lines BF and FD represent the unison. ACBF represents the octave (2:1). EK divides the square in half, and at the point where it is
22. Ibid., 6063. Appendix I contains several 'other heliconlike figures from later eras. These later diagrams, unlike Ptolamy's, are complicated geometrical figures and do not have any instrumental application. They are, however, useful devices for the visual demonstration of the proportional lengths of lines.
55
intersected by AF shows the twelfth (HK:9, EH=3). The line DM is placed parallel to EK at the point (G) where BC intersects Ar. GM:LG is an octave. The lines IG and Eli are in the proportion of 4:3 and illustrate the diatessaron, and AC:GM (12:8) shows the diapente. HK and MG are in the proportion of 9:8 and illustrate the tone.
Ptolemy also includes a variation of the helicon, which is described as follows (Diagram 10). ABDC is a rectangle. The line DE equals· CD and is constructed as a parallel extension of CD. The line CG equals onefourth of CEo The line CH equals onethird of CEo The lines
GL and ElI are parallel to AC. The diagonal AFE intersects the lines AC, GL, HN, and BD in the following proportions:
GK=3/4 of AC and 3/2 of' DF; HM=2/3 of AC and 4/3 of' DF; GK.9/8 of' HM. Concerning the line OPE, he pOints out that a straigh~ line originating at E and intersecting AC at any point, will produce the same proportions between the lines CO, GQ, HR, and DP as are described in relation to the diagorial AFE.
Ptolemy discusses both of' these f'igures as if they were instruments. He regards the lines AB and CD in both diagrams as the f'ixed bridges. The lines vertical to these bridges are the string, and the diagonals (AF in Diagram 9 and AFE in Diagram 10) represent the movable bridges. To
56
Diag~am 10. Ptolemy's second helicon.
A
each of these "instruments" he attributes distinct advantages. Of the first he notes that one does not need to measure the placement of the string IM (Diagram 9) since its position is shown by the intersection of the diagonals. The advantage of the second is that the bridge APE, if fastened at E, can be moved to any point between A and C and will provide ,the correct proportions between the strings.
57
Euclid appears to be the earliest of the Greek writers to provide a full manual division of the Greater Perfect System. The Sectio canonis is a ser1es of propositions of which the nineteenth and twentieth give directions for the division. Proposition XIX contains the method Zor determining the Hestotes, and Proposition XX shows the deter.mination of the diatonic Kinoumenoi. The following ~aragraphs contain Euclid's directions:
XIX. The length of the string is to be AB, and it is to be divided into four equal parts at
G, D, and E. Thus BA, since it will be the lowest sound, is called the bambus [= a hollow deep sound]. AB is the supertertius of GB; therefore GB will be a diatessaron higher than AB, and since AB is the Proslambanamenos, GB will be the Lichanos Hypaton. AB is the duple of DB and thus will
sound an octave below the latter which is called the Mese. Again, since AB is the quad~ple of EB, EB is the Nete Hyperbolaion. GB is divided in half at Z, which sounds an octave higher than GB; thus Z is the Nete Synemmenon [or the Paranete DlezeugmenonJ. Take away onethird [ DR] of DB,
and DB will be sesquialtera to HB, and will sound to HE the interval of a diapente; thus HE will "be the Nete Diezeugplenon. Make H& equal to HB and
9B will sound an octave lower than HE; thus eB will be the Hypate Meson. Onethird part of 9B will be eK. 9B will sound a diapente below KB which is called the Paramese. Finally, make LK equal to KB which will sound an octave higher than LB. Thus LB will be the Hypate Hypaton, and all of the ~ovable sounds will be placed in the canon.
xx. To find the Paranete Hyperbolaion, divide EB into eight parts and place MB in a sesqui~ctave proportion to EB. Then divide MB into eight parts and place NB in a sesquioctave proportion to MB. NB will be the Tri te
58
Hyperbolaion, and will be a tone lower than MB which is a tone lower than EB. Then divide NB into three parts an~make NX equal to one of these three parts so that XB will be sesqu1 tertia to NB. XB will thus sound a fourth lower and is to be called uie Trite Diezeugmenon. Onehalf of XB added to itself will be OB and will sound a fifth lower. OB is the Parhypate Meson. ~hen make OP equal to OX,
so that PB will be Parhypate Hypaton. Finally, the fourth part of GB will be GR and RB will sound a fourth higher and will be called Lichanos Meson.23
The results of this d1 visi on may be stlIIU!1arized by means of the following diagram (Diagram 11). The division is accomplished by Lleesurements of 2, 3, 4, and 8 parts, which produces a minor disdiapason (defined on p.39,above) of Pythagorean intervals. It is divided in an alternatingdescending manner and produces fifteen notes in twelve steps. Althoueh Euclid uses Greek names for the pitches,
he refers to the string lengths by meens of letters.
After Euclid there begins a process of reordering these letters into alphabetical sequence and a gradual discontinuance of the Greex names. In the Middle Ages this process evolved intc the uses of the Latin letters AP to represent the ascending minor disdiapason and eventually culminated,
23. Euclid, Sectio canonis, 23ff, in Meibom, .2.E.. cit., I.
Diagram II. Euclid, Sectjo Canonis (~ . .300 B.C.).
Direct Jon :Altll,natingOmendlng. Mea.surernents . Z,3, 4,8.
Note'3; 15.
Completed Monoc.hor"d: P':ltha~an Tunj~.
59
A L GaD I< Z..., E'
rI +1 +1 +1 "'llr+I 11f+1 +1+1+1 ++II+I +1 ,
I P 0 R X NM
See!" G 0 I:
I JA z ~
2r
3
7+_
8f
91_
1ZI_
, P .. oport cpu
01 8'4
T
tt
l z IS
, z

9 H 8
, z. _1 ~
"_ .. _ ..   I
~ ~ 8
z 1 I
 
~ I ~ 2 • 8
I 
~ z ~ • B
... I
't'. E' •. ., 8
 ..  .''''.'''1.1'
I I I ,
. ~,~. 1 , 8
_u~ .. .. 1.1 1 ,
I I , I I I I
X 4 N..1 1 Z 1 , B
..  ..   ....  ... .+ .... t. I I
0 3 ~ Z , B
I
 ,
p 0 x
2 ,
I I I
Y R 8
I 1 z , l_ ~
I I 1 I Z
f
9 e
9 8
z· T
3 4
60
in the eleventh century, in the sevenletter series AG 24
used for modern pitch names.
Aristides Quintilianus realized the same result from his division as did Euclid, but introduced a variation in the manner of determination. Whereas Euclid used
the alternating method throughout his division, A.rlstides,
once he had determined the Res totes in the same manner as
Euclid, proceeded in a strictly descending manner by sesquioctava proportions to find the Kinoumeno1 (D1agrrum 12). This, in a sense, makes the division clearer to follow since the notes were determined consecutively, but
at the same time makes it less efficient in that the
sesquioctava proportions are more difficult to divide than the sesquitertia and sesquialtera proportions.
Theon of Smyrnaus, a contemporary of Aristides, intro~uced a simplification of the method for determining
25
the Hestotes. By dividing the length of the canon into
twelve parts he was able to place six notes in the manner shown in Diagram 13. Except for the Paramese, which was
~
found as a subsesquioctava proportion to the Mese, the
24. The medieval evolution of the use of letters in connection with the division of the monochord and as notational symbols is discussed on pp.9.13,below.
25. Wantzloeben, £E. ~., 2123.
61
Diagram '2. Ari.,tldes Quintilianus (fl. A.D. 150) a Qe,m""sicg.
Direction :AlternatingOescendi"3Meosurements: Z~ 3~ 4, B.
Notes: 15.
Completed Monochord: PCjtnagorean Tl.lnin9'
A L G e 0 R P K X Z HN M E'
~I ~1~~1 ~1~141~1~41~'~1+1H11+1~1~~I
I P I
steps P"oportions
I'A , Go z D s E ., B'~
I I
ll____,lf~_','_ ,_t7:;:~=___Il
, Z
3 ~ ~+, .~+~r:,.;;,,3i ~
4 f rr+ ,;:;,,£ iI4 , t.l
, . I
<9 ~
S ~_I:I__;_I +_,____;z=.,_:___::,3ti
L
6~~ ~2~+,_~I~!
. I t
7r
M,te '7",6 .. 3,' , 9
I " I I , I I i
B ~SMS,7 ,'lS14 ,3 Z I' 9
r4I~,~~,~I~,~I~~,+,~i
9~~~'IZr8~,~7J~'~I~S~l~~~~3J~2~~'_+:9 I I I I , , I I I S
R .. 0
10+ __ +I ~_tI·~1lI7+ I''""Il~+, .. ~I....:;..~~,Z+,.....,;"..' ~I
o R
rlr ~I'r18~17r16~I~s~I4~1~3+I~z~+:'~i
P G
~~ _+19,I__;_.'_I'r_~'r_'~'r_I~S+_1~4~+1~3~4!~2~4'~'~~
I I , e
62
rest of the notes were determined by means of sesquioctava proportions in the manner used by Aristides. Again, the same results are reached as those obtained by Euclid, but they differ in that Theon's division produces the fifteen notes in only nine steps. This twelvepart sectioning of the entire canon is often cited in reference to the placing of the consonances (fourth, fifth, and octave), but it appears to be also the earliest representation of the other notes by means of a twelvepart division.
Theon is also said to r~ve been the first to intro
duce the manual division for both the Trite Synemmenon and the chromatic genus. He established the Trite Synemmenon
26 in a sesquioctava proportion to the Trite Diezeugmenon.
The develupment which provided the basis for division of the chromatic genus was ~~e use of the subsesquioctsva proportion. He first determined the Paramese as eightninths of the Mese and then found the chr~£tic Paranete Diezeugmenon as eightninths of the Parames6. The determination of the latter note was impossible by any other method then in use.27 Theon, in adopting the subsesqui
26. Ibid., 2324.
27. Campare this Greek method with the technique introduced by Boethius in the fifth century. See p. 99, below.
63
octava proportion as a means of deter.mining the tone, was the only one of the Greek writers to utilize this proportion (8:9) on the monnchord.
The second method of acoustical representation,
the system of string lengths, was used by same writers in conjunction with the manual division of the monochord or
as a substitute method of representing the disdiapason.
The system of string length.s, although original with the writers of this period, did not prove to be a popular means of representing intervals. Aristides comments to this effect when discussing his own system of string lengths:
"The arithmetical explanation of the system is too detailed on account of the size of the numbers, and for this reason one does better to use the manual division. ,,28 The
system of string lengths is discussed by only three writers of the Greek era: Theon, Aristides,and ptolemy.
Wantzloeben attributes the earliest representation 29
of this kind to Theon. This series of string lengths
is said to have utilized anasic string length of 41,472
units of measurement. Theon is not recorded as having
28. Aristides Quintilianus, De Musica, Ek. III, Chap. I, La tin trans. in Meiban, Ope cit., II.
29. Wantzloeben,~. cit., 31.
64
Diagram 13. The monochord division of Theon of Smyrnaus.
Mese HYpGte M.,on Lic.hClnos H~p4ton Pr'oltlClm ba.nomenos
8 <)
Nete HyperboJoJon Nete Oiextu9menon
..
completely divided anyone of the genera by means of this series. Aristides devised a series based on a string length of 9,216 units. MeiboIrl states that the complete system was not present in all of the manuscripts that he had access to, so he supplied it in a completed for.m in
30
his edition of the De musd ca , Meiban's canpleted system
is probably the correct rendition of the series, since
the same numbers appear in many later manuscripts, of which same date back as far as Boethius. In any case the application of the proportions of the Pythagorean scale to the number 9216 results in the following division of the diatonic genus (Table 3), which is the same set of numbers
"1
given by Meiban~ and the many writers of the Middle Ages
who discuss the system.
Although Ptolemy discusses Aristides's series of string lengths, he does not use it as his main systsn of scalar representation, nor does he use the manual division
30. Meiban,.2l!.. ci t., 312.
31. ~., 317.
, 65
Table 3. Aristides's system of string 1engths~2
2304 Nete Hyperbclaion
2592 Faranete Hyperbolaion
2916 Trite Hyperbo1aion
3012 Nete Diezeugmenon
3456
Nete Synemmenon and Paranete Diezeugmenon
Paranete Synemmenon and Trite Diezeuenenon
Faramese
3888
4096 4374 4608 5184 5832 6144 6912 7776 8192 9216
Trite Synemmenon
Mese
Lichanos Meson
Parhypate Meson Hypate Meson Lichanos Hypaton Parhypate Hypaton liypate Hypaton
Proslrumbanamenos
32. This set of string lengths is frequently used in later sources in theoretical discussions that do not include the monochord. In a sense it serves the same purpose in the Middle Ages tha t cents do today  except that ce~te numbers are proportional and can be used on a string without further calculation. Because of these wellknown uses the numbers are briefly referred to by this wri tel' as "Aristidean numbers."
66
33
of the monocho~d. Instead he uses a basic string length
of 120 units, which can be transferred to the instrument without much difficulty. Ptolemy was, probably influenced in l"..is choice of means by the number of divergent systems that he had undertaken to present. Not only did he have to represent the simple ratios of the Pythagoreans, but there were also the abstractions of the Aristoxenians and
a host of other scalar divisions that, were not determinable
by means of the usual manual monochord technique. The final result, in the opinion of many modern writers, was a scientific and orderly treatise that preserved for
33. Aristides's string lengths are discussed in ptolemyrs Hannonics, Ek. I, Chapter 10. Ptolemy does not present a manual monochord division of the minor disdiapason in any of his writings because he felt that the monochord was too inaccurate. For his own purposes he used a fifteenstring monochord that, according to him, eliminated the errors encountered in dividing the smaller intervals of the upper octave. He used seven strings of this device for the lower octave and eight for the upper; the seven strings were tuned to a unison and the eight were tuned, in unison, an octave higher. In representing a scalar tuning on this instrument he divided each note of the lower octave on a separate string. These same measurements were then applied to the eight strings reserved for the upper oc tave , and since these strings were already tuned an octave higher they sounded the notes of the second octave. This procedure, he felt, was a more accurate and a more scientific method than any kind of division one could make on a single string. (See Daring, ££. cit., 103.)
67
posteri~ many of the aspects of Greek music that would otherwise have been lost.
In the monochord divisions of these Greek writers there seams to be a clear indication of a desire to make their acoustical investigations as accessible as possible for the practical musician. This is evidenced by the trend toward simplification of the manual monochord divisions and the attempt to present audible representations of the various scale patterns. This trend is emphasized by their dislike of the rather abstract mathe~atical system of string lengths, so even when this type of representation was the only practical solution to a clear understanding of the scale patterns, as in the case of Ptolemy, it was presented in a fonn that was applicable
to the monochord.
68
Chapter III
THE MONOCHOao IN THE MIDDLE AGES
Musical Treatises .!.a ~ Middle Ages
The several hundred years that fonn the transition between the GrecoRoman period and the Middle Ages are characterized by a noticeable lack of original thought among scholars. For the most part, the writers of this era were attempting to summarize and present in accessible for.m those aspects of classical Philosophy and liberal arts which seamed most attractive. Tone summaries presented by these writers are generally poor representations of classical thought for two reasons. First, there was a certain disinclination of both writers and readers to delve into the more abstruse concepts of Greek philosophy and science; and second, these authors followed a long line of compilers and commentators who had long since lost contact with the Original works. Stahl states that these "late encyclopedists were removed fram classical Latin authors by five or six, and fran Greek authors such as Plato and Aristotle by ten intennediate sources, and in many cases the
69
separation was even greater. Yet they give the impression tha t they are handling the original works. ttl
PringlePattison, in the article on "Scholasticism" in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, points out that until the thirteenth century the scholars of the Middle Ages were ignorant o~ Greek and that they possessed no philosophical works in their Greek originals c 2 Their sole source of Greek culture was the Latin translations and commentaries
of the late Latin encyclopedists, The following sources encanpass the total material that the scholars of the early Middle Ages had at their disposal. Of fundamental importance were Boethiusls versions of tb9 Categories and the
De interpretatione of Aristotle, his summaries of mathematics and music, and his translation of the Isagoge of Porphyry. The T1maeus of Plato was available in the version of Chalcidius, as was some general information on the PlatoniC doctrines in the commentary with which Chalcidius accompanied his translation of Apuleiusls De ~osnate Platonis. This latter work was chiefly NeoPlatonic, like
1. William H. Stahl, introduction to his trans. of Ambros1us J£acrobius IS commentaH on the Dream of Scipio (New York: Columbia Uri~ersi~Press, ~52), 9.
2. Andrew Seth PringlePattison, "Scholastic1 sm, " Enc!1lo~aedia Sri tannica, 11th ed. (New York: Encyclopae a rltannlca, 1911), XXIII, 348.
70
the infonnation available fran Macrobius's commentary on Cicero's Samnium Scipionis and the writings of St. Augustine. The available works of Augustine, mainly used in the study of logic, consisted of the Principia dialecticae, which is mainly concerned with grammar, and the Categoriae decem,
of doubtful authenticity, which is a rapid summary of Aristotle's Categories. This list of sources is concluded by the Satyricon of Martianus Capella (mainly devoted to the seven liberal arts) and the De artibus ac liberalium
 ~~
literarum of Cassiodorus. The Etymologiarum of Isidore of Seville is mainly a reproduction of Cassiodorus.3
Of this list, the works of Boethius, Cbalcidius, Macrobius, Cassiodorus, and Isidore are all commentaries of the sort discussed above.4 It would be of little importance that these five were not writing fram firsthand knowledge of their sources except that the basic materials for the study of music within the Quadrivium consisted entirely of the works of Boethlus, Cassiodorus, and Isidore until the beginning of the ninth century.5 Aristoxenian influence is said
3. Ibid.
4. Stahl,~. cit., 9.
5. Gustave Reese, Music in the Middle Ages (New York:
w. W. Norton and do.,r94nT, 125. .
71
to have been perpetuated in the Middle Ages by Cassiodorus, while Boethius, by way of the influence of Ptolemy, pro
mulga ted the teachings of the Pythagoreans.
The De musica

: of Boethius is the only musical writing of these three authors that contains infor.mation about the monochord.
Many modern scholars, among them Mountfo~, Gevaert, and Beese, observe that Boethius had no firsthand knowledge of Ptolemy's Har.monics, and that the confusion between the Greek and Medieval modal systems is to a great extent attributable to him. 6 Boethius's misunderstandings, however, extended much furtba r than his interpretation of the modal system, for, as will be shown, his conception of the manual division of the monochord was presented without a true understanding of his material. In the writings of the later Middle Ages the phra se "secundum Boethius" (according to Boethius) is often used along with the presentation of a monochord division. The use of these words places an aura of Boetb1an prestige upon the work and stmultaneously implies that Boethius's teachings are utilized in the course of the treatise  yet only two of ~e manual monochord
6. Cf. J. ~. Mountford, "Greek Music and its Relation to Modern Times," Journal of HelleniC Studies, XL
(1920), 1342. 
72
di visions examined in this study follow the pa'ttern established by Boethius.
The teachers and students of the early medieval period were unaware tif the deficiencies of the works through which they became acquainted with Greek thought, and which were the fundamental materials in the study of the seven liberal arts. The seven liberal arts, which were the legacy of the earlier Roman schools, were well adapted to fulfill the aims of a religious life as set forth by the Churoh.
Music, as one of these arts, was considered necessary for the proper interpretation of the Scriptures; and musicians (singers) were necessary for the perfonnance of the religious rituals.7 In the earlier centuries of the Middle Ages (the sixth through the tenth), the writings of Boethius,
Cassiodorus, and Isidore were used for both speoulative and practical requirements of the curriculum; and, if one may judge from the content of these writings, the emphasis was directed more toward the assooiation of sounds and numbers
than toward the practical neceaat td es of the perfonner. In any case the requirements of a religious life resulted in
the for.mation of several kinds of schools. In eighthcentury
7. Cf. Nan C. Carpenter, Music in the Medieval and Renaissance Universities (Norman: university of Oklahoma Press, 1958), 1315.
France, for exampleJ the Carolingian renaissance stimulated the establishment of severel new schools. Charlemagne IS chief educational officer, AlcUin, began the reorganization of the palace school and the monastic schools throughout the Empire. But it may be said of Alcuin, in spite of his educational advances, that his writings were still in the tradition of the Latin encyclopedists  that is, imperfect
8 and hurried summaries.
Music as taught in these schools followed the same pattern as that of the other arts, which, in times of intellectual revival, were able to provide a wide culturs.l background, but in times of ignorance and stagnation were
limi ted to a dry and perfunctory study of just enough material to provide a bare functional understanding of the subject. The lack of practical musical training in these periods of stagnation resulted, at least in such larger centers as Rome, in the establisbment of special singing schools for the purpose of training singers in the liturgy.9
Musical writings used in the monastic schools of the sixth through the tenth century generally follow 'the
8.
James Welton, "Education," Encyclo~edia Britannica 11th ed. (New York: Encyclopaedla~ritann1ca, 1911~, VIII, 954.
Cf. Carpenter, ~. cit., 1617.
9.
74
order and content of material established in the treatises
of Boethius, Cassiodorus, and Isidore. This arrangement
". "
is exemplified in the Musica disciplina of Aurelian of Reame
(midninth century) which praises, in its first chapters, the disciplines of music. These chapters are followed by the definition of music and statements concerning its invention, its effects, and its divisions, that is, musica mundana, humana, and instrumentalis. Before concluding
wi th a specific discussion of the modes, this treatise, like most others, explains the intervals and the mathematical
10 proportions of the intervals.
After the tenth century the task of formal education was shifted to the schools of the great cathedrals, mainly owing to the increase of religious asceticism in the monasteries. This change provided the impetus for more practical instruction in the art of music because of the freer atmos
phere of the cathedral schools, and, as a result, the practical musical treatise became an accepted part of the musical curriculum. There appeared in this era a strong duality of purpose in musical writing, which to some extent was only a continuation of the duality first established in the writings of the Greeks. As defined by Aristotle, all
10. Aurelian of Rlan6', Musica disciplina, Q§. I, 2763.
75
knowledge was divisible into two categories, one theoretical, the other practical.ll This div:f.sion, already observable in the divergent paths of the Pythagoreans and Aristoxenians~ resul ted in the production of two main kinds of musical treatises: the speculative and the practical. These characteristics are frequently merged in a single work, which is nevertheless often classified as speculative because of a preponderance of such material; all practical treatises, on the other hand, contain same speculative material.
Speculative treatises are largely concerned with the scientific and philosophical aspects of music. Treatises
of this kind may be further classified into two different groups according to the intent of the author. The first group comprises the hortatory introductions, which are primarily designed for the student of philosophy Whose interest in music is directed towards its value as a mental disci
pline. In these works the main object is to justify the study of music by showing its categories and its relationships to the other arts. Boethius's De musica is probably the bestknown example of this group. Shorter works of this sort are often incorporated into larger philosophical
11. Aristotle, Aristotle's MetaphysiCS, tr. by ~chard Hope (New York: Columbia Un1versity Press, 1952), II, s , 57.
.....
76
works, which introduce music as one of the seven liberal
arts.
Speculative treatises of the second group, in which the elements of music were submitted to a more detailed
discussion, were designed for the more involved student of music. This kind of treatise, known as the eisagoge, was rigidly organized after the pattern followed in the treatise
'" "
of Aurelian of Reane, although, of course, d1fferences
appear in the points of view emphasized. Another good example of this k:t.nd of treatise is the De he.nnonica institutione of Begino of PrUm.
In general the ape cu'la ta ve treatise, serving in part as a prototype for all musical treatises in the Middle Ages, also continued as a separate genre. Later speculative works are represented by the Monochordi netarum of Adelboldi
(d. 1022), and the Tractatus ..!!! musica of Jerane de Moravia (second half of the thirteenth century) •
The practical musical treatise is a development of the later Middle Ages (that is, after the tenth century). It is not generally concerned with the philosophical or mathematical aspects of music, but with music as a sounding art, either instrumental or vocal. Such treatises can usually be grouped into two classes. Members of the first group, designed primarily for Singers, contain brief
77
illustrations of practical matters for ~ediate consumption. The writings of Guido and Odo are two of the earliest works to appear in this form. The second group, intended for scholars and composers, treats of music in great detail, "drawing upon speculative, mathematical theories of intervals and proportions as a background for artistic probl~s. ,,]2 The Musica of Her.mann~s Contractus exemplifies the learned
work of this kind.
In the late Middle Ages the cathedral schools' evolved into the great medieval universities. With the rise of these institutions the speculative treatise again came
to the fore, now combined with many elements of the practical treatise in the form of an encyclopedic speculum. These comprehensive musical works, best represented by the Speculum musicae of Jacques de Liege, combine, in separate books, all of the mathematicalphilosophical treatments of music with discussions of material more closely related to its actual practice. In turn, the medieval speculum was used as a model for the great encyclopedic works of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, of which Mersenne's Harmonie universelle and Kircher's Musurgia universal1s are perhaps the most famous.
12. Carpenter,~. cit., 28.
78
In both practical and speculative treatises an attempt is always made to explain the proportional basis
of the intervals. Since these works were always didactic, their authors attempted to devise systematic approaches to the discussion of intervals, and in many, the monochord is utilized as a means of both aurally and visually representing the intervals and their proportions. In all kinds of . treatises the exposition of the monochord is essentially the same, although in some the manual division is replaced or paralleled by the system of s trj.ng lengths. The important point is not whether the diVision is manual or otherwise,
but where within the treatise the diSCUSSion of the division is placed. In the writings of Odo and Guido and other works with a more practical purpose, the division of the monochord and the explanations of its uses are generally placed immediately after the introduction. In the more speculative treatises, on the other hand, the discussion of 'the monochord is frequently relegated to the end of the work or at least placed after the main theoretical discussion. A further distinction is that the practical treatises tend to use the ascending division of the monochord and speculative treatises the descending division. These trends are also observable in the encyclopedic works and treatises of the fourteenth century, in which, however, whole books or
79.
sections are devoted to the discussion of the monochord.
The techniques used in ·the demonstrations will be explained in the following pages.
In tais respect it is interesting to note the general trends of these discussions in the speculative treatises of the period. Boethius, as was mentioned eA~lier, is the only one of the la ter La tin wri tars to df.scuae the monochord. After Boethius, the next apJ;darance is in the De harmonica institutione of Hucbald (£!. 846930) and the works fonnerly attributed to Hucbald.13 The treatment accorded the monochord in these writings establishes the style of the monochord divisions to be found in many later speculative treatises. In general the speculative discus
sions are vague and complex, the manual divisions are of
little practical value, and many of the later writings that are patterned after the Dimensio monochordi discuss the monochord after the system of string lengths.
13. Anonymous, Cita et vero divisio monochordi, GS I, 122; Anonymous, 15I'iiiin'SToliiOriochordl, GS I, 12212'57 In this study anonymous treatises are listed accordin~
to Heinrich Hflschen's list in the article "Anonymi
in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart {vol. I, 50llrT. Treatrses such as lEi above, not listed by Hftschen, are labeled by the title of the treatise, accompanied by the source as in Hftschen's list.
80
The evolution toward more freedom in both medieval
schools and musical treatises is paralleled in the use or
the monochord. With the rise of practical treatises, especially those of Odo and Guido in the early eleventh century,l4
'fot'>
the discussions of the monochord take on a new appearance. To same extent the discussion is simplified, as is the man~l division, and the authors generally take pains to
use the monochord to their genuine advantage. In these works the monochord is presented as a useful teaching device.
This is entirely apart from its second, samimystical usage
in the speculative treatise, in which it often seems to represent the mysterious forces of the Pythagorean number philosophies that are everpresent in the Middle P~es.
These two approaches to the monochord form such strong traditions that they not only survive throughout the Middle Ages, but continue to appear in many of the treatises of
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
14. The reader will note in this study that the Dialogus de musica, generally thought to be the work of Odo
Of Cluny (d. 942), is attributed to Odo of st • Maul' (fl. 100629). This attribution, in agreement with the recent research of Hans Oesch, is made by this writer because the techniques applied to the monochord by Odo are anachronistic to the tenth century. For Oesch's camnents on the two Odos, see Hans Oesch, Guido ~ Arezzo (Bern: Paul Haupt, 1954), 3753.
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The Development of the Medieval Scale System
In the Middle Ages the monochord exerted great influence in each of five areas having to do with the development of the scale system: Pythagorean tuning, scale expansion, genera, letter notation, and pedagogy. The development and extent of the first four will be generally outlined in the remainder of this section. The pedagogical use of the monochord will be discussed in Chapter VI.
For all practical purposes tne diatonic disdiapason of the Greeks may be said to be the only scale of any consequence used in the Middle Ages. This scale, used only in the Pythagorean tuning, was retained in its original form (resembling the interval order of the modern natural minor scale) until about 1000. The second half of the Middle Ages saw the range of the scale expanded both up and down, while, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, chromatic alteration of the diatonic notes became a cammon practice. The chromatic and enharmonic genera of the Greeks survived in the Middle Ages only in the theoretical discussions of the speculative treatises; the medieval tunings of these genera do not correspond to any of the tunings surviving fram the Greek era, and appear to be purely arbitrary dete~inations devised by Boethius to complete his explanation of the
tonal system.