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Musica Mathematica

Traditions and Innovations in Contemporary Music


Rima Povilionienė

The concept of «musica mathematica» seeks to accurately examine the intersection of two seemingly radically different subject areas. From the perspective of a European perception, the definition of the science of music was a result of the Pythagorean concept of universal harmony. The Pythagoreans were the first in European culture to raise the issue of uniting music and mathematics, sound and number.

In the three parts of the monograph, versatile cases of the intersection of music and mathematics are displayed, moving from philosophical and aesthetic considerations about mathesis to practical studies, discussing the interaction between music and other kinds of art (architecture, painting, poetry and literature), and providing a practical research of contemporary music compositions.

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3. Constructive Aspects of the Interaction between Music and other Arts


3. Constructive Aspects of the Interaction between Music and other Arts

The conception of mathematically perceived beauty, its expression in terms of numerical manipulations, as well as the laws of symmetry and proportions as formulas of beauty, could have been a connecting chain revealing the links between music and other arts, such as architecture, literature, and painting. In these fields mathematics exists as a common denominator and is an element of the constructive tie between the contrasted and compared arts. The same proportions of numbers in different epochs were regarded as the condition for perfect art in music, architecture, fine arts, and poetry.

3.1. “Frozen Music”: Dialogues between Music and Architecture

The issue of the affinity between music and architecture has been raised by many thinkers from different historical epochs. In the early aesthetics of Antiquity architectural buildings that corresponded to numerical relations of musical intervals were likened to an euphonious sound of a musical chord. For example, the antique theory of the impact (or the influence) of music harmony on the structure of the world is illustrated by the ancient Greek myth about the Amphion,76 son of Zeus and Antiope, testifying to the relationship between music and architecture. When Amphion played the lyre that Hermes gave him, the magic stones and beams gently glided into place by themselves, and the walls of the city of Thebes were built.

The representative of Hellenism, Vitruvius, thought that a good architect should understand...

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