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Manual Of Harmonics Of Nicomachus

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Paperback Book
July, 2004
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In ancient Greek thought, the musical scale discovered by the philosopher Pythagoras was seen as a utopian model of the harmonic order behind the structure of the cosmos and human existence. Through proportion and harmony, the musical scale bridges the gap between two extremes. It encapsulates the most fundamental pattern of harmonic symmetry and demonstrates how the phenomena of nature are inseparably related to one another through the principle of reciprocity. Because of these relationships embodied in its structure, the musical scale was seen as an ideal metaphor of human society by Plato and other Pythagorean thinkers, for it is based on the cosmic principles of harmony, reciprocity and proportion, whereby each part of the whole receives its just and proper share.

This book is the first complete translation of The Manual of Harmonics by the Pythagorean philosopher Nicomachus of Gerasa (second century A.D.) published with a comprehensive, chapter-by-chapter commentary. It is a concise and well-organized introduction to the study of harmonics, the universal principles of relation embodied in the musical scale.

The remarkable chapter-by-chapter commentary by translator Flora R. Levin makes this work easily accessible to today's reader. Dr. Levin explains the principles of Pythagorean harmony, provides extensive background information and helps to situate Nicomachus' thought in the history of ideas. This important work constitutes a valuable resource for all students of ancient philosophy, Western cosmology and the history of music.

"Flora Levin's way of working with this text is an inspiration. She takes the dry sentences of a notebook and, with her commentaries, turns them into living words, exchanged between living people. One can see from this why harmonics was so important to the Greeks: like modern physics, it gave entrance to the mystery of the world's construction, and to the intelligence latent therein."

--Joscelyn Godwin, Professor of Music, Colgate University; author of Harmony of the Spheres: A Sourcebook of the Pythagorean Tradition in Music

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