Thesis ID: CBB226988728

Sensible Mathematics: The Science of Music in the Age of the Baroque (2019)


Fix, Adam (Author)
Boantza, Victor D. (Advisor)

University of Minnesota
Boantza, Victor D.
Publication date: 2019
Language: English

Publication Date: 2019
Physical Details: 289

In this dissertation I analyze the relations between mathematics, music theory, and experimental sciences from the scientific revolution through the Enlightenment. Music in the early modern period was seen as a mathematical science. More so than other branches of mathematics, music also had a direct connection to human sensory perception. I show that music, interpreted as a kind of "sensible mathematics," played a crucial though largely underappreciated role in uniting mathematical and empirical European scientific traditions. I describe the upheavals that saw music theory become unmoored and drift away from what came to be known as modern science. During the Enlightenment it landed in the domain of fine arts and aesthetics, a separation we typically see as self-evident today. By elucidating the role of music in the scientific revolution and its aftermath, while emphasizing the shift from premodern musical science to modern physico-mathematical acoustics, I reveal the profound—even paradoxical—tensions between science and the practical arts.

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Authors & Contributors
Bellissima, Fabio
Wardhaugh, Benjamin
Alfonso-Goldfarb, Ana Maria
Assayag, Gérard
Baker, Christopher Paul
Borzacchini, Luigi
Bollettino di Storia delle Scienze Matematiche
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Circumscribere: International Journal for the History of Science
Estudios Clásicos, Órgano de la Sociedad Española de Estudios Clásicos
Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society
University of Chicago
Greenwood Press
Music theory
Harmony (music theory)
Revolutions in science
Kircher, Athanasius
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Boyle, Robert
Diderot, Denis
Euler, Leonhard
Galilei, Vincenzo
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

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