L’Âme du monde dans la rationalité musicale: ou l’expérience sensible d’un ordre intelligibile

TitleL’Âme du monde dans la rationalité musicale: ou l’expérience sensible d’un ordre intelligibile
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsMeyer, C
EditorCristiani, M, Panti, Cecilia, Perillo, G
Book TitleHarmonia mundi: musica mondana e musica celeste fra antichità e medioevo: atti del convegno internazionale di studi: (Roma, 14-15 dicembre 2005)
Series TitleMicrologus' library 19
PublisherSISMEL edizioni del Galluzzo

The philosophical and mathematical model of the World Soul developed by Platonic commentators inspired medieval music theorists in different ways, which we owe to the reception of the Calcidian commented translation of Plato's 'Timaeus'. This model was used in the construction of the acoustic scale by the author of the 'Musica enchiriadis'. It also offered the mathematical basis for the proportional dimensions of the 'organistrum' and of certain early medieval bells. The 'Quaestiones de musica' attributed to Rudolf of St-Trond are a rare example of the reception of Calcidius' commentary in music theory at the beginning of the 12th century. In one of the three extant copies of this compilation (Darmstadt, Ms. 1988) a complex diagram is found, which combines the first two diagrams of the Calcidian commentary. This diagram, compared to the those of the consonances in Boethius' 'De institutione musica', seems to form the heuristic scheme on which the music theorists of the 12th century build their classification of the consonances of the 'musica mensurabilis'. The harmonic numbers that form the divisions of the World Soul were to provide the following century with a mathematical structure for rhythmic mensural notation. Thus, Platonism deeply influenced the specific understanding of music that, at last, found a practical expression in the polyphony of Notre Dame, and, later, 'Ars nova'.

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