Art About Music: Boethius’ “De institutione musica” (c. 6th century)


(This is an illustration from a 12th-century copy of Boethius’ De musica. Boethius is depicted on the top left, experimenting with a monochord. Pythagoras is depicted on the top right, experimenting with bell vibrations. On the bottom left is the philosopher Plato, and bottom right, the mathematician Nicomachus.)

“A musician is one who has gained knowledge of making music by weighing with the reason, not through the servitude of work, but through the sovereignty of speculation.”

– Boethius (in Ferdia J. Stone-Davis, Musical Beauty: Negotiating the Boundary between Subject and Object, p. 32.)

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