Musica Scientia: Musical Scholarship in the Italian Renaissance

TitleMusica Scientia: Musical Scholarship in the Italian Renaissance
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsMoyer, AE
Ancient AuthorsPythagoras Phil. (TLG 0632), Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus (OCD)
Number of Pagesvii + 325 pp.
PublisherCornell University Press
CityIthaca, NY

Theories of music and its nature, central to many aspects of Renaissance thought, have nonetheless been difficult to integrate into modern scholarship. In Musica Scientia, Ann E. Moyer asserts that the Renaissance discipline must be understood in the terms of other contemporary fields of knowledge.
Moyer begins with a clear and concise historical summary of ancient and medieval musical thought, emphasizing the importance of the Phythagorean teachings about music, transmitted to the medieval world through Boethius's De institutione arithmetica. Describing the factors that, in the late fifteenth century, led scholars and practicing musicians to raise new questions about the discipline and its study, Moyer closely analyzes the writings of the sixteenth-century Italians who debated the nature of music and its relationship to mathematics, the natural sciences, poetry, and rhetoric. Renaissance thinking about music, she shows, wrought a dramatic change in the understanding of the field: scholars came to distinguish between a science of sounding bodies and an art of music, an art to be studied in terms of poetics and the history of taste.
Moyer's book offers a new and systematic treatment of a critical but neglected aspect of Renaissance thought. It makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the classification of knowledge in the Renaissance and of the process by which two competing kinds of analysis--humanistic and mathematical--came to distinguish the modern arts and sciences. []


Notes 2nd Series 1993 50 (1): 119-120 Maria Rika Maniates; Renaissance Quarterly 1994 47 (3): 711-713 Bonnie J. Blackburn; The American Historical Review 1993 98 (4): 1282 Paul Oskar Kristeller

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