The monochord in ancient Greek harmonic science

TitleThe monochord in ancient Greek harmonic science
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsCreese, D
Ancient AuthorsClaudius Ptolemaeus Math. (TLG 0363), Philolaus Phil. (TLG 1596), Archytas Phil. (TLG 0620), Euclides Geom. (TLG 1799), Eratosthenes Philol. (TLG 0222)
Series TitleCambridge Classical Studies
Number of Pagesxvi + 409 pp. ill.
PublisherCambridge University Press

Among the many instruments devised by students of mathematical sciences in ancient Greece, the monochord provides one of the best opportunities to examine the methodologies of those who employed it in their investigations. Consisting of a single string which could be divided at measured points by means of movable bridges, it was used to demonstrate theorems about the arithmetical relationships between pitched sounds in music. This book traces the history of the monochord and its multiple uses down to Ptolemy, bringing together all the relevant evidence in one comprehensive study. By comparing the monochord with a number of other ancient scientific instruments and their uses, David Creese shows how the investigation of music in ancient Greece not only shares in the patterns of demonstrative and argumentative instrument use common to other sciences, but also goes beyond them in offering the possibility of a rigorous empiricism unparalleled in Greek science. []


BMCR 2011.03.59 Eleonora Rocconi; BJHS 2011 44 (2): 282-283 Liba Taub; Isis 2011 102 (3): 549-550 Peter Pesic; CR 2011 61 (2): 424-425 Tosca Lynch; NECJ 2011 38 (2): 120-123 James Grier; Ancient History Bulletin Online 2012 2: 51-53 Massimo Raffa; Aestimatio 2012 9: 337-351 Stefan Hagel; ; Phoenix 66.1-2: 176-178 Jon Solomon; AC 2012 81: 396-399 Sylvain Perrot

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