, the science of sound, considered as capable of producing melody, or harmony.

Among the Ancients, Music was taken in a much more extensive sense than among the Moderns: what we call the science of Music, was by the Ancients rather called Harmonica.

Music is one of the seven sciences called liberal, and comprehended also among the mathematical sciences, as having for its object discrete quantity or number; not however considering it in the abstract, like arithmetic; but in relation to time and sound, with intent to constitute a delightful harmony.

This science is also Theoretical and Practical. Theoretical, which examines the nature and properties of concords and discords, explaining the proportions between them by numbers. And Practical, which teaches not only compofition, or the manner of composing tunes, or airs; but also the art of singing with the voice, and playing on musical instruments.

It appears that Music was one of the most ancient of the arts; and, of all others, Vocal Music must doubtless have been the first kind. For man had not only the various tones of his own voice to make his observations on, before any other art or instrument was found out, but had the various natural strains of birds to give him occasion to improve his own voice, and the modulations of sounds it was capable of. The first invention of wind instruments Lucretius ascribes to the observation of the winds whistling in the hollow reeds. As for other kinds of instruments, there were so many occasions for cords or strings, that men could not be long in observing their various sounds; which might give rise to stringed instruments. And for the pulsative instruments, as drums and cymbals, they might arise from the observation of the naturally hollow noise of concave bodies.

As to the inventors and improvers of Music, Plutarch, in one place, ascribes the first invention of it to Apollo; and in another place to Amphion, the son of Jupiter and Antiope. The latter indeed, it is pretty generally allowed, first brought Music into Greece, and invented the lyre.

To him succeeded Chiron, the demigod; then Demodocus; Hermes Trismegistus: Olympus; and Orpheus, whom some make the first introducer of Music into Greece, and the inventor of the lyre: to whom add Phemius, and Terpander, who was contemporary with Lycurgus, and set his laws to Music; to whom also some attribute the first institution of musical modes, and the invention of the lyre: lastly, Thales; and Thamyris, who, it has been said, was the first inventor of instrumental Music without singing.

These were the eminent musicians before Homer's time: others of a later date were, Lasus Hermionensis, Melanippides, Philoxenus, Timotheus, Phrynnis, Epigonius, Lysander, Simmicus, and Diodorus; who were all of them considerable improvers of Mufic. Lasus, it is said, was the first author who wrote upon Music, in the time of Darius Hystaspis; Epigonius invented an instrument of 40 strings, called the Epigonium. Simmicus also invented an instrument of 35 strings, called a Simmicium; Diodorus improved the Tibia, by adding new holes; and Timotheus the Lyre, by adding a new string; for which he was fined by the Lacedemonians.

As the accounts we have of the inventors of musical instruments among the Ancients are very obscure, so also are the accounts of those instruments themselves; of most of them indeed we know little more than the bare names.

The general division of instruments is, into stringed instruments, wind instruments, and those of the pulsatile kind. Of stringed instruments, mention is made of the ly raor cithara, the psalterium, trigonum, sambuca, pectis, magas, barbiton, testudo, epigonium, simmicium, and panderon; which were all struck with the hand, or a plectrum. Of wind instruments, were the tibia, fistula, hydraulic organs, tubæ, cornua, and lituus. And the pulsatile instruments were the tympanum, cymbalum, creptaculum, tintinnabulum, crotalum, and sistrum.

Music has ever been in the highest esteem in all ages, and among all people; nor could authors express their opinion of it strongly enough, but by inculcating that it was used in heaven, and as one of the principal entertainments of the gods, and the souls of the blessed. The effects ascribed to it by the Ancients are almost miraculous: by its means, it has been said, diseases have been cured, unchastity corrected, seditions quelled, passions raised and calmed, and even madness occasioned. Athenæus assures us, that anciently all laws, divine and civil, exhortations to virtue, the knowledge of divine and human things, with the lives and actions of illustrious men, were written in verse, and publicly sung by a chorus to the sound of instruments; which was found the most effectual means to impress morality on the minds of men, and a right sense of their duty.

Dr. Wallis has endeavoured to account for the surprising effects attributed to the ancient Music; and ascribes them chiefly to the novelty of the art, and the hyperboles of the ancient writings: nor does he doubt, but the modern Music, in like cases, would produce effects at least as considerable as the ancient. The truth is, we can match most of the ancient stories of this kind in the modern histories. If Timotheus could excite Alexander's fury with the Phrygian mode, and sooth him into indolence with the Lydian; a more modern musician has driven Eric, king of Denmark, into such a rage, as to kill his best servants. Dr. Niewentyt speaks of an Italian who, by varying his Music from brisk to solemn, and the contrary, could so move the soul, as to cause distraction and madness; and Dr. South has founded his poem, called Musica Incantans, on an instance he knew of the same kind.

Music however is found not only to exert its force on the affections, but on the parts of the body also: witness the Gascon knight, mentioned by Mr. Boyle, who could not contain his water at the playing of a bagpipe; and the woman, mentioned by the same author, who would burst into tears at the hearing of a certain tune, with which other people were but a little affected. To say nothing of the trite story of the Tarantula, we have an instance, in the History of the Academy of Sciences, of a musician being cured of a violent| fever, by a little concert occasionally played in his room.

Nor are our minds and bodies alone affected with sounds, but even inanimate bodies are so. Kircher speaks of a large stone, that would tremble at the sound of one particular organ pipe; and Morhoff mentions one Petter, a Dutchman, who could break rummer-glasses with the tone of his voice. Mersenne also mentions a particular part of a pavement, that would shake and tremble, as if the earth would open, when the organs played. Mr. Boyle adds, that seats will tremble at the sound of organs; that he has felt his hat do so under his hand, at certain notes both of organs and discourse; and that he was well informed every well-built vault would thus answer to some determinate note.

It has been disputed among the Learned, whether the Ancients or Moderns best understood and practised Music. Some maintain that the ancient art of Music, by which such wonderful effects were performed, is quite lost; and others, that the true science of harmony is now arrived at much greater perfection than was known or practised among the Ancients. This point seems no other way to be determinable but by comparing the principles and practice of the one with those of the other. As to the theory or principles of harmonics, it is certain we understand it better than the Ancients; because we know all that they knew, and have improved considerably on their foundations. The great dispute then lies on the practice; with regard to which it may be observed, that among the Ancients, Music, in the most limited sense of the word, included Harmony, Rythmus, and Verse; and consisted of verses sung by one or more voices alternately, or in choirs, sometimes with the sound of instruments, and sometimes by voices only. Their musical faculties, we have just observed, were Melopœia, Rythmopœia, and Poesis; the first of which may be considered under two heads, Melody and Symphony. As to the latter, it seems to contain nothing but what relates to the conduct of a single voice, or making what we call Mclody. It does not appear that the Ancients ever thought of the concert, or harmony of parts; which is a modern invention, for which we are beholden to Guido Aretine, a Benedictine friar.

Not that the Ancients never joined more voices or instruments than one together in the same symphony; but that they never joined several voices so as that each had a distinct and proper melody, which made among them a succession of various concords, and were not in every note unisons, or at the same distance from each other as octaves. This last indeed agrees to the general definition of the word Symphonia; yet it is plain that in such cases there is but one song, and all the voices perform the same individual melody. But when the parts differ, not by the tension of the whole, but by the different relations of the successive notes, this is the modern art, which requires so peculiar a genius, and on which account the modern Music seems to have much the advantage of the ancient. For farther satisfaction on this head, see Kircher, Perrault, Wallis, Malcolm, Cerceau, and others; who unanimously agree, that after all the pains they have taken to know the true state of the Music of the Ancients, they could not find the least reason to think there was any such thing in their days as Music in parts.

The ancient musical notes are very mysterious and perplexed: Boethius and Gregory the Great first put them into a more easy and obvious method. In the year 1204, Guido Aretine, a Benedictine of Arezzo in Tuscany, first introduced the use of a stass with five lines, on which, with the spaces, he marked his notes by setting a point up and down upon them, to denote the rise and fall of the voice: though Kircher says this artifice was in use before Guido's time.

Another contrivance of Guido's was to apply the fix musical syllables, ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, which he took out of the Latin hymn,

UT queant laxisREsonare fibris
MIra gestorumFAmuli tuorum,
SOLve pollutiLAbii reatum,
O Pater Alme.

We find another application of them in the following lines.

UT RElevit MIserum FAtum, SOLitosque LAbores Aevi, sit dulcis musica noster amor.

Besides his notes of Music, by which, according to Kircher, he distinguished the tones, or modes, and the seats of the semitones, he also invented the scale, and several musical instruments, called polyplectra, as spinets and harpsichords.

The next considerable improvement was in 1330, when Joannes Muria, or de Muris, doctor at Paris (or as Bayle and Gesner make him, an Englishman), invented the different figures of notes, which express the times or length of every note, at least their true relative proportions to one another, now called longs, breves, semi-breves, crotchets, quavers, &c.

The most ancient writer on Music was Lasus Hermionensis; but his works, as well as those of many others, both Greek and Roman, are lost. Aristoxenus, disciple of Aristotle, is the earliest author extant on the subject: after whom came Euclid, author of the Elements of Geometry; and Aristides Quintilianus wrote after Cicero's time. Alypius stands next; after him Gaudentius the philosopher, and Nicomachus the Pythagorean, and Bacchius. Of which seven Greek authors we have a fair copy, with a translation and notes, by Meibomius. Ptolomy, the celebrated astronomer, wrote in Greek on the principles of harmonics, about the time of the emperor Antoninus Pius. This author keeps a medium between the Pythagoreans and Aristoxenians. He was succeeded at a considerable distance by Manuel Bryennius.

Of the Latins, we have Boetius, who wrote in the time of Theodoric the Goth; and one Cassiodorus, about the same time; Martianus, and St. Augustine, not far remote.

And of the moderns are Zarlin, Salinas, Vincenzo Galileo, Doni, Kircher, Mersenne, Paran, De Caux, Perrault, Des Cartes, Wallis, Holder, Malcolm, Rousseau, &c.

Musical Numbers, are the numbers 2, 3, and 5, together with their composites. They are so called, because all the intervals of music may be expressed by such numbers. This is now generally admitted by| musical theorists. Mr. Euler seems to suppose, that 7 or other primes might be introduced; but he speaks of this as a doubtful and difficult matter. Here 2 corresponds to the octave, 3 to the fifth, or rather to the 12th, and 5 to the third major, or rather the seventeenth. From these three may all other intervals be found.

Musical Proportion, or Harmonical Proportion, is when, of four terms, the first is to the 4th, as the difference of the 1st and 2d is to the difference of the 3d and 4th: as 2, 3, 4, and 8 are in Musical proportion, because . And hence, if there be only three terms, the middle term supplying the place of both the 2d and 3d, the 1st is to the 3d, as the difference of the 1st and 2d, is to the difference of the 2d and 3d : as in these 2, 3, 6; where . See Harmonical Proportion.

previous entry · index · next entry


Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

This text has been generated using commercial OCR software, and there are still many problems; it is slowly getting better over time. Please don't reuse the content (e.g. do not post to wikipedia) without asking liam at holoweb dot net first (mention the colour of your socks in the mail), because I am still working on fixing errors. Thanks!

previous entry · index · next entry

MUNSTER (Sebastian)