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Thinking about sounds: analysis and musical criticism according to Aristoxenus of Tarentum and his reception in Antiquity

Grant number: 20/16313-1
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2021
Effective date (End): August 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature - Classical Languages
Principal Investigator:Paula da Cunha Corrêa
Grantee:Nataly Ianicelli Cruzeiro
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The philosophical and rhetorical interest in music in Antiquity is present in the work of several authors since Plato and Aristotle. The peripatetic Aristoxenus of Tarento is one of the oldest and main sources of a theory of analysis and musical criticism and of a thought regarding the aesthetic and moral qualities that the mélos (melody, rhythm and poetry) must have and under what criteria the mousikós must criticise it. However, there is no systematic treatment of these issues in his extant treatise, Elements of Harmony (Harm.), but it is possible to try to reconstruct and understand these ideas by analysing the passages of the Harm. in the light of its fragments and other writings, such as the harmonics manuals of his disciples (Cleonides, Bacchius and Gaudentius), and of writings that receive his theories, such as the On Music of Ps. Plutarch, the homonymous treatise by Aristides Quintilianus and the Harmonics by Claudius Ptolomaeus. Considering that, the objective of this thesis is to produce a systematic analysis of these sources in order to try to retrace how, for Aristoxenus, music should be analysed and what criteria make a piece good or bad. It is also intended to highlight the continuities and discontinuities Aristoxenic concept of music theory and criticism, both with regard to his predecessors, Plato and Aristotle and with regard to the musical theorists and later rhetoricians who had access to Aristoxenic ideas. This thesis aims at contributing to the study of Greek music and to fill a gap in the Aristoxene literature, since the author's philosophy of music has been little studied and still lacks both a close treatment and one that puts his ideas in perspective with recent studies on musical aesthetics in Antiquity. (AU)

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