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Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Scientific Music Theory: The Scientific Foundation and Method of His Theory of Harmony

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2022, 66(), pp.230-254
  • DOI : 10.17527/JASA.66.0.09
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Received : April 15, 2022
  • Accepted : May 13, 2022
  • Published : June 30, 2022

Jun-Sik Won 1

1대전대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Jean-Philippe Rameau’s theoretical work reflects the aspiration of Enlightenment for science and reason. Before he came along, music theory had consisted of abstract speculations concerning Pythagorean number-mysticism on the one hand, and desultory empirical rules of counterpoint and the thorough-bass on the other hand. Rameau sought to move music theory from numerical mysticism into science and reduce the complexity of empirical data to a rational system governed by a single principle. To this end, he presented the existence of natural overtones as evidence that musical harmony is based on nature, and adopted the methods of Descartes and Newton for the scientific system of music theory. Following such a methodology, Rameau clarified the harmonic practice of his contemporaries with remarkable concision through the “fundamental bass” principle. This paper examines Rameau’s music theory from the perspective of the history of music and science and tries to investigate its meaning and character from the relational history of music and science.

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