The conceptualisation of music in ancient Greek thought (V century B.C. – II century B.C.)

Savela, Sarunas (2022) The conceptualisation of music in ancient Greek thought (V century B.C. – II century B.C.), [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Beni culturali e ambientali, 34 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10446.
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The focus of this dissertation is the analysis of the music-related philosophical passages from the 5th century B.C. to the 2nd century B.C. It aims to provide a multifaceted view towards music as a cultural phenomenon, which is based primarily on the philological and culturological explorations instead of the technical-musicological approach. The texts from our selected period attest that mousikē had an extremely broad conceptualisation which led to the attribution of the different, sometimes completely opposite value: from an insignificant performative practice to an activity which corresponds to the divine laws and directly affects the human soul. The discussed testimonia provide evidence of defining music both as an exclusively acoustic phenomenon and as a philosophically significant concept that oversteps the sonic definition. Our sources clearly demonstrate that mousikē was a polysemous term: it was understood as an interdisciplinary form of art (as the arts of the Muses), though it was also used to indicate the exclusively instrumental music or a philosophical concept, which does not necessarily define sound as its essential quality. The aim of this dissertation is to clarify the arguments behind each of these positions, to analyse whether such different modes of conceptualisation are compatible among themselves, and to see how they fit together into explaining what was understood as music in Antiquity. In this thesis we explore the conceptual framework of mousikē and analyse what enabled the musical thought to be worthy of the attention of the greatest philosophical minds. We will demonstrate that it was not the sound or the artistic practices that were central in the philosophical thought on music, but instead the embedded structural qualities that have correspondence to the universal proportions of the cosmic world and which are perceptible to the listeners through the medium of sound.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Savela, Sarunas
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Mousike, Ancient Greek Music, Conceptualisation, Harmonia, Music of the spheres, Cosmic music, music and mathematics, Stoic music, Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism
Data di discussione
1 Luglio 2022

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