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Article

Charles Burnett

(bc1080; dc1150). Music theorist active in England. He studied in Tours, probably taught in Laon, travelled in Sicily, southern Italy and the Crusader states, but apparently spent much of his life in the south-west of England. He translated Arabic scientific texts into Latin and wrote original works of considerable literary merit, perhaps in his role as a tutor in an episcopal or royal court: one such text was addressed to the future King Henry II. Adelard dealt with music as an integral part of the Quadrivium. In the De eodem et diverso he mentioned studying music with a master (unnamed) in Tours; he himself played the kithara there in the presence of a queen. Speaking of the powers of music and giving examples from his own experience, he maintained that the soul, before entering the body, has already drunk in the celestial harmonies. In his Questiones naturales...

Article

Eckhard Neubauer

(b Baghdad, July 779; d Samarra’, July 839). Arab musician. He was a son of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdī and a Persian slave at court called Shikla. He became famous for his fine and powerful voice with its range of four octaves, and first took part in court concerts during the reigns of Hārūn al-Rashīd (786–809) and al-Amīn (809–13). Proclaimed caliph in 817 in opposition to al-Ma’mūn (813–33), he had to abdicate after barely two years and went into hiding. In 825 he was pardoned and became a court musician once more under al-Ma’mūn and his successor al-Mu‘taṣim (833–42). He was a follower of the school of Ibn Jāmi‘ and represented a ‘soft’ style, probably influenced by Persian music, which also allowed freedom in rendering older works. His rival Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī accused him of stylistic uncertainty; fragments of their polemic writings are quoted in the Kitāb al-aghānī al-kabīr...

Article

Alcuin  

Jane Bellingham

[(Flaccus) Albinus]

(b Northumbria, c735; d Tours, May 19, 804). Anglo-Saxon scholar, writer and poet. Little is known about Alcuin's early years, but he was educated at the cathedral school in York, which, under the guidance of magister, and later archbishop, Aelberht (d 780), became one of the foremost centres of learning in England during the second half of the 8th century. Alcuin remained at York as Aelberht's assistant, becoming magister himself in 767, and several times travelled to the Continent, especially Gaul and Italy, in search of books for the cathedral library. It was on one such visit that Alcuin met Charlemagne (reigned 768–814), who, in 781, invited him to join the scholars of the Frankish court. In Francia Alcuin became one of the leading members of the court school. He is known to have been the personal tutor of Charlemagne and is generally considered to have been the architect of many of the king’s educational reforms, including those in the ...

Article

Alypius  

Thomas J. Mathiesen

[Alypios]

(fl 4th century ce). Greek writer on music. His Introduction to Music (Eisagōgē mousikē) contains the most complete tabulation of ancient Greek musical notation. He is mentioned by Cassiodorus (Institutiones, ii.5) in the list of important Greek musical authors together with Ptolemy and Euclid (i.e. Cleonides). Alypius’s treatise may have been known to Boethius, who included notational symbols for the Lydian tonos in all three genera (De institutione musica, iv.3–4), but they are not attributed to him and could have been derived from other sources. Nothing is known of his life. The principal reasons for assigning such a late floruit have to do with the name (which is not otherwise attested before the 4th century), the content of the opening prose section (see below), and the general lack of interest in musical notation shown by writers securely dated before the 3rd century ce...

Article

James W. McKinnon

(b nr Metz, c775; d ?Metz, c850). Writer on liturgy and chant. He was probably educated under Alcuin at the monastery of St Martin in Tours, and served as archbishop of Trier from 809 and 814. In 813 he travelled to Constantinople at the behest of Charlemagne, returning the next year, apparently by way of Rome. He then began his literary activity, probably at Aachen. His longest and most significant work, the Liber officialis, first appeared in about 823, with a second edition in about 830. In 831 Amalarius visited Rome and requested a copy of the Roman antiphoner from Pope Gregory IV, only to be informed that Abbot Wala of Corbie had secured all available copies on his visit of 825 and had returned with them to Corbie. Amalarius himself made the journey to Corbie, there to compare the Roman antiphoners with their Frankish counterparts. Like ...

Article

Ambrose  

James W. McKinnon

(b Trier, c340; d Milan, 397). Saint, bishop and Doctor of the Church. He was the son of the Roman prefect of Gaul, and embarked upon a successful political career, being named consular governor of Liguria and Aemilia in about 370. While yet unbaptized he was elected Bishop of Milan by popular acclaim on 7 December 374. Together with Augustine and Jerome he is acknowledged as one of the three great Latin Church Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries. He was primarily a public figure, however, unlike Augustine, the philosopher, or Jerome, the scholar; he consolidated the position of the Church against the powerful Arian heresy and the counter-attacks of paganism.

Tradition has assigned him a musical significance exceeding that of any other early Christian leader. This purported achievement can be summarized under four headings: (1) the co-authorship with Augustine of the Te Deum; (2) an involvement in the composition and organization of the Milanese or Ambrosian chant comparable to that formerly attributed to ...

Article

André Barbera

(fl first half of the 4th century bce). Mathematician, music theorist and inventor. A friend of Plato, he may have been taught by Philolaus, the first man known to have publicized Pythagorean discoveries widely. Although no extended writing by Archytas survives, fragments attributed to him are contained or summarized in the works of others. He may have been the first author to establish the subjects of the Quadrivium (geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music). He also expounded a theory of acoustics that associated pitch with the speed of sound as it passed through the air, noting that sounds arriving swiftly and strongly appear high-pitched, whereas those arriving slowly and weakly appear low-pitched (Diels, 47b1).

Archytas presents the three mathematical means of music (Diels, 47b2): arithmetic [(a+b)÷2], geometric [√ab] and subcontrary or harmonic [2ab÷(a+b)]. The geometric mean divides a musical interval exactly in half. Accordingly, Pythagorean music theory uses it to characterize the octave as the mean interval between the double octave and the unison. The arithmetic and harmonic means, since they always produce rational numbers provided that the original terms are rational, have the potential for wider application in music theory. Within an octave, the arithmetic mean determines the frequency ratio of the ascending 5th and the harmonic mean determines that of the ascending 4th....

Article

Warren Anderson and Thomas J. Mathiesen

[Aristotelēs]

Warren Anderson, revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen

(b Stagirus, 384 bce; d Chalcis, 322 bce). Greek philosopher.

In order to consider Aristotle's views on music, it is necessary to make some reference to the theories of sense perception and ethical behaviour on which they are based. His treatise On the Soul defines perceiving as the process of acquiring the form, or mental image, of an object. Considered in subjective terms, it is a developing of the potential into the actual, since a thing cannot become what it is not (424a18–19, 425b23–4, 417b2–7). The attitudes that characterize an individual have thus always existed potentially within him; music can evoke them, but it cannot implant them.

According to the same treatise, every affection (pathos) of the soul involves a concurrent affection of the body (403a16–19). Bodily affections, however, cannot cause movement in the soul, which is the unmoved mover. This definition of the soul occurs in ...

Article

Annie Bélis

(b Tarentum, Magna Graecia, c375–360 bce; d ?Athens). Greek music theorist, philosopher and writer. According to the Suda he was the son of a musician called Mnesias or Spintharus who gave him his early musical education. It is not known to which philosophical or musical school Mnesias belonged, but he may have been one of the Pythagoreans whose political influence had been dominant in Magna Graecia, particularly in Tarentum, with which Archytas had long been associated. Mnesias could have known a number of prominent figures both in Magna Graecia and in Athens: the musicians Archytas, Damon and Philoxenus, as well as Socrates and perhaps even the Theban general Epaminondas. Aristoxenus himself followed the teachings of Lamprus of Erythrae, and then, in Athens, of Xenophilus the Pythagorean. He spent most of his life in Greece. A fragment of one of his works indicates that he lived for some time at Mantinea in Arcadia, where music, which was held in high esteem, was subject to the kind of conservative laws that appealed to his austerity and love of ancient traditions....

Article

Warren Anderson

revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen

(b Naucratis, Egypt; fl c200 ce). Greek grammarian and encyclopedist. He settled in Rome at the beginning of the 3rd century ce. None of his works has survived except the Deipnosophistai, a vast compendium in 15 extant books, probably written after 192 ce. Its generic form is that of the literary symposium; as a species, it deals with antiquarian lore rather than such ‘higher themes’ as philosophy. Its main topic is food; the mock-academic title, often translated as ‘The Sophists at Dinner’, properly describes specialists whose learning centres tirelessly upon the joys of the kitchen. The work is not, however, a cookery book.

Many characters engage in this marathon after-dinner conversation; they include representatives of every profession thought to be consequential, among them musicians, both professional and amateur. It has been rightly noted that the diverse themes are related to the banquet itself with but indifferent success. The unified structure of Plato's ...

Article

James W. McKinnon and Joseph Dyer

[Aurelius Augustinus]

(b Thagaste, Nov 13, 354; d Hippo, Aug 28, 430). Saint, churchman, and scholar. He was perhaps the most influential figure in the history of Christian thought, rivalled only by Thomas Aquinas and possibly Origen. Born in North Africa to a pagan father and Christian mother, the sainted Monica, he studied rhetoric in Carthage where he lost his boyhood Christian faith. In 373 his reading of Cicero's Hortensius inspired him to pursue the life of a philosopher, which he experienced first as a devotee of Manicheism. He served as professor of liberal arts for several years in his native Thagaste, moving in 383 to Rome and then in 384 to Milan, as professor of rhetoric. In Milan he came under the influence of the Christian neoplatonist Simplicianus and St Ambrose. He was led gradually through Neoplatonism to Christianity and, after a period of retreat at Cassiciacum, was baptized on Easter Eve of ...

Article

Thomas J. Mathiesen

[Bakcheios Gerōn]

(fl ?4th century ce). Greek writer on music. He was the author of a small musical catechism preserved under the title Introduction to the Art of Music (Eisagōgē technēs mousikēs). The treatise is usually (though not always) followed in the manuscripts by a second distinct treatise but with the same title and author; the second treatise in turn is followed in most (but not all) manuscripts by this epigram:

Of music, Bacchius the Elder described

the tonoi, tropoi, melē and consonances.

Echoing him, Dionysius writes.

The all-powerful Emperor Constantine

he shows to be a wise lover of the works of art.

For one who, of every wise subject of instruction,

has been seen as discoverer and giver,

it is most unseemly to be a stranger to music.

The epigram, however, is never found with the first treatise of Bacchius when it appears alone (the earliest instance of which is the marginal text in a 13th-century hand in ...

Article

Dimitri Conomos

[Bardesanes]

(b Edessa [now Urfa], July 11, 154; d Edessa, 222). Syrian hymnographer, astrologer and philosopher. Born into a pagan priestly family, he was educated by a pagan priest but baptized as a Christian, and in 179 he was ordained deacon and priest. Later denounced as a heretic and excommunicated (c216), he fled to Armenia and there taught a kind of astrological fatalism. Bardaisan has been erroneously regarded as a leader of the oriental school of gnosticism founded by Valentinus. His theology, which in fact combined Christian doctrine with astrological and philosophical speculation, is known from the works of later Christian writers such as Eusebius and Ephrem Syrus, who strongly denounced it, and from Bardaisan’s own Dialogue with Antonius concerning Destiny (or Book of the Laws of the Lands), which is the oldest surviving document in Syriac.

Bardaisan wrote many hymns (madrāshe) in Syriac, which his disciples translated into Greek. They included 150 psalms in pentasyllabic metre, reportedly modelled on those of David, through which he popularized his heretical doctrines (Bardaisan’s son Harmonius is said to have written the tunes). The stanzas of the ...

Article

Bede  

Calvin Bower

revised by Jane Bellingham

[Beda venerabilis]

(b Northumbria, 673; d Jarrow, 735). Anglo-Saxon monk, writer and historian. His works, particularly the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’), provide important evidence for the practice of music in the Anglo-Saxon Church during the 6th, 7th and early 8th centuries. At the age of seven, he was placed under the care of Benedict Biscop (628–90), abbot and founder of the Northumbrian monastery of St Peter at Wearmouth. When Biscop founded the brother abbey of St Paul at Jarrow in 682 Bede was sent there to join its abbot Ceolfrith (642–716). Bede spent the rest of his life at Jarrow, where he became a dedicated teacher, never travelling outside Northumbria. Biscop and Ceolfrith acquired many books on their frequent journeys to Rome and Gaul and were largely responsible for the substantial collection of manuscripts owned by the abbeys; they also created one of the most important scriptoria in Anglo-Saxon England. Wearmouth became a major centre for the teaching of liturgical music in Northumbria when in 680 Biscop acquired the services of John, archcantor of St Peter’s basilica and abbot of St Martin’s in Rome, to teach his monks how to celebrate the liturgy and to chant according to the practice of the Roman churches....

Article

Calvin Bower

[Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius]

(b Rome, c480 ce; d Pavia, c524 ce). Roman writer and statesman. He was born into one of the foremost patrician families of Rome; following the death of his father in 487 ce he was taken into the home of Symmachus, another patrician. Boethius learnt Greek philosophy and the liberal arts from Symmachus and married his daughter. Both men were colleagues in later senatorial struggles.

Boethius’s erudition in both the practical and speculative arts attracted the attention of Theodoric the Ostrogoth, then ruler of Italy. Through Cassiodorus, Theodoric requested Boethius’s aid in various matters, including the selection of a kitharode for Clovis, King of the Franks. Cassiodorus, writing in his official capacity as quaestor, repeatedly praised Boethius’s learning. Boethius became consul in 510, and in 522 was called to Ravenna to become Theodoric’s magister officium. In 523 Cyprian, Theodoric’s referendary, brought charges of treason against a senator, Albinus, and Boethius argued in Albinus’s defence. Boethius was himself then charged and imprisoned with Albinus in Pavia, and ultimately executed....

Article

Thomas J. Mathiesen

(fl 3rd century ce). Roman grammarian and philosopher. He is known today for his On the Day of Birth (De die natali), a treatise on birthday lore and other subjects composed for the 49th birthday of his patron, Qu. Caerellius, in 238 ce. According to Cassiodorus (Institutiones, ii.5.10) and Priscian (Institutiones grammaticae, i.16–17; xiv.6, 40–41), Censorinus also composed treatises on grammar and accents. These works seem not to have survived, although some portions may appear in the so-called Fragmentum Censorini, which was transmitted along with On the Day of Birth in manuscripts and early editions until Louis Carrion separated and reorganized them in his edition of 1583. On the Day of Birth and the Fragmentum are preserved in whole or part in at least 24 manuscripts; the earliest is D-KNd 166 (formerly Darmstadiensis 2191), dating from the 8th century.

Censorinus states that he drew his treatise from earlier commentaries, and much of ...

Article

Dimitri Conomos

(fl c1440–63). Byzantine composer and theorist. The only surviving biographical evidence about Chrysphes is contained in music manuscripts. Information in IL-Jp 31 (c1440) reveals that he held the office of lampadarios (leader of the left choir) in the Byzantine palace. His autograph appears in an Akolouthiai manuscript, GR-ATSiviron 1120, which bears the date 1458. The latest recorded date for Chrysaphes is in a signed manuscript, TR-Itks 15, completed on 29 July 1463. A number of sources indicate that some of his compositions were commissioned by the last two Byzantine emperors, John VIII Palaeologos (1428–48) and Constantine XI Palaeologos (1449–53). Chrysaphes is also known to have spent some time in Crete and even to have travelled as far as Serbia, where he wrote liturgical music.

His treatise, Peri tōn entheōroumenōn tē psaltikē technē kai hōn phronousi kakōs tines peri autōn (‘On the theory of the art of chanting and on certain erroneous views that some hold about it’; ...

Article

Warren Anderson

revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen

(b Arpinum [now Arpino], Jan 3, 106 bce; d Caieta [now Gaeta], Dec 7, 43 bce). Roman statesman, orator and man of letters. The hundreds of references to music in his writings (see Wille, 1967) include no comprehensive statement of theory; individual passages show that his usual eclecticism prevailed here as well. The Epicurean condemnation of music and of late Stoic musical theory by a philosopher well known to him personally, Philodemus of Gadara, influenced his thinking; nevertheless, he occasionally used Platonic and Stoic doctrines. He accepted the view of Democritus and Epicurus that music is one of the fine arts, not a pursuit necessary for life (Tusculan Disputations, i.25.62); at the same time, the musical culture of Hellenic Greece seemed to him admirable (ibid., i.2.4).

Cicero's orations usually referred to the place of music in private life and for forensic purposes treated it as a sign of dissolute tendencies; but his treatises on rhetoric show a lively awareness of the rhythmic and melodic elements that entered into oratorical technique. The influence of Cicero's oratorical theory is most directly seen in the ...

Article

Michel Huglo

[Silvester II]

(b Aquitaine, c940; d May 12, 1003). Scholar and pope. His influence in the history of thought was such that the 10th century has been called the ‘century of Gerbert’. His importance for music lies in his comments on Boethius's De musica institutione and his treatise on the division of the monochord and the measurement of organ pipes.

In three letters dating from 986/7 to members of the abbey of Aurillac, Gerbert deals with problems relating to the organ, not as regards chant accompaniment, but the use of the instrument for didactic purposes, as did Hucbald of St Amand in his Musica. Gerbert had entered the monastery of Aurillac reformed by Odo of Cluny, c925. His primary interests lay in scholarship: he travelled to Catalonia to study under Arab mathematicians and astronomers. Adalbero, archbishop of Reims, summoned him, probably in 972, to teach the subjects of the Quadrivium (geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music) at the episcopal school at Reims, where he probably wrote his treatise and his letters commenting on Boethius. He was elected Abbot of Bobbio and, in 999, pope, taking the name Silvester II....

Article

Damon  

Warren Anderson

revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen

(fl late 5th century bce). Greek music theorist. A highly influential figure of the Periclean age. Damon had paramount importance among the pre-Socratics for doctrines of musical ethos. Dance and song ‘necessarily arise when the soul is in some way moved’, he maintained (Diels, 37/B/6), aware that purposive action originates in the soul. He went on to voice the primary tenet of all musical ethics, claiming that ‘liberal [i.e. befitting a free man] and beautiful songs and dances create a similar soul, and the reverse kind creates a reverse kind of soul’ (ibid.). According to a late author, Aristides Quintilianus (ii.14; Winnington-Ingram, 80.26–9; Diels, 37/B/7), this creative act was explained as having a twofold nature, masculine and feminine:

That notes, even of continuous melody [i.e. one that follows scalar order], mold through similarity a nonexistent ethos in children and in those already advanced in age and bring out a latent ethos, the disciples of Damon showed. In the harmoniai transmitted by him, it is possible to discover that sometimes the feminine, sometimes the masculine of the movable notes either dominate or have been employed to a lesser degree or not at all, since it is evident that a harmonia is utilized in accord with the ethos of each soul. Therefore, of the parts of melic composition, the so-called repetition is considered the most useful on each occasion in the selection of the most necessary notes....