Aristoxenus of Tarentum

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Aristoxenus of Tarentum

(ărĭstŏk`sənəs, tərĕn`təm), fl. 4th cent. B.C., pupil of Aristotle. He marks a turning point in Greek musical theory by being the first to base theory on analysis of musical practice. In his two extant treatises, Elements of Rhythm and Elements of Harmony, he systematized Greek music by clear definitions of terms and orderly arrangement of scales.


See H. S. Macran, The Harmonics of Aristoxenus (1902).

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Aristotle says he prohibited eating beans, but Aristoxenus says "he valued beans most of all vegetables, since they were laxative.
In the fourth century BCE, Aristoxenus wrote that the Pythagoraeans used music to purify the soul, (90) and, in the first century CE, Quintilian, a Roman rhetorician, wrote, 'On awakening, it was the Pythagoreans' custom to arouse their souls with the sound of the lyre, so that they might be more alert for action, and before going to sleep they soothed their minds by means of this same music in order to calm them down, in case too turbulent thoughts might still inhabit them.
His approach was Aristoxenian in character, though he had no knowledge of the writings of Aristoxenus.
Aristoxenus of Tarentum and the birth of musicology.
but ruled one of the most powerful Greek city-states during the first half of the fourth century BC, and was characterized by Aristoxenus as the paradigm of a successful leader.
It argues that the doctrine recorded by Porphyry becomes comprehensible when it is placed against the background of Aristoxenus' work in harmonics, and it discusses Porphyry's inferences about the way in which his epistemological position diverged from that of Aristoxenus.
Many writings remained in manuscript during his lifetime: a treatise on counterpoint (edited by Frieder Rempp in 1980) and various discourses on the use of dissonances, the enharmonic genus, the unison, forms of the octave, and the tuning systems of Pythagoras, Aristoxenus, and Ptolemy (edited and translated by Claude V.
22) Bruni's source for the latter piece of information -- the Suda -- posited a close causal connection between the choice of Theophrastus and the reaction of Aristoxenus.
Most of the various genres of composition receive adequate attention, but the signal contribution of this book is a history of the development of Greek music theory and its principal documents, with summaries of the contents of each, from Aristoxenus (late fourth century B.
In fact, if we hold back and instead take [Greek Text Omitted] and [Greek Text Omitted] to refer to the characters bestowed by the Good and by Unity, our reconstruction of the "unwritten teachings" seems to fit precisely as the "long story" that Aristoxenus both refers to and cuts short.
Ironically, the preoccupation with the systems of Aristoxenus and others, which were constructed considerably later than the great Hellenic creative ages, has been a distraction from more revealing practical musical information that is scattered here and there in the writings of the theorists, and that combines with the considerable literary and iconographic evidence to give us today the means, as Anderson writes in stating the purpose of his book, "to write about music and musicians" (p.
In addition, one's picture of how philosophical theory might shape (and be shaped by) a study of harmonic theory will be enhanced by comparing Barker's analysis of Aristoxenus with Bowen's own illuminating analysis of Euclid's very different harmonic theory ("Euclid's Sectio canonis and the History of Pythagoreanism").