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Music and the Making of Modern Science [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Peter Pesic

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18. Juli 2014
In the natural science of ancient Greece, music formed the meeting place between numbers and perception; for the next two millennia, Pesic tells us in Music and the Making of Modern Science, "liberal education" connected music with arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy within a fourfold study, the quadrivium. Peter Pesic argues provocatively that music has had a formative effect on the development of modern science -- that music has been not just a charming accompaniment to thought but a conceptual force in its own right. Pesic explores a series of episodes in which music influenced science, moments in which prior developments in music arguably affected subsequent aspects of natural science. He describes encounters between harmony and fifteenth-century cosmological controversies, between musical initiatives and irrational numbers, between vibrating bodies and the emergent electromagnetism. He offers lively accounts of how Newton applied the musical scale to define the colors in the spectrum; how Euler and others applied musical ideas to develop the wave theory of light; and how a harmonium prepared Max Planck to find a quantum theory that reengaged the mathematics of vibration. Taken together, these cases document the peculiar power of music -- its autonomous force as a stream of experience, capable of stimulating insights different from those mediated by the verbal and the visual. An innovative e-book edition available for iOS devices will allow sound examples to be played by a touch and shows the score in a moving line.

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Peter Pesic is Tutor and Musician-in-Residence at St. John's College, Santa Fe. He is the author of Labyrinth: A Search for the Hidden Meaning of Science; Seeing Double: Shared Identities in Physics, Philosophy, and Literature; Abel's Proof: An Essay on the Sources and Meaning of Mathematical Unsolvability; and Sky in a Bottle, all published by the MIT Press.

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Deep Listening: The Early History 29. Juli 2014
Von Dr. Debra Jan Bibel - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This extraordinary treatise covers in unusual incremental detail the interrelated early histories of mathematics, physics, astronomy, and music theory so readily glossed over in contemporary surveys, and it is a revelation. Author Pesic is a doctoral physicist and historian in the music department of a small New Mexico college. His wide knowledge is distilled in this scholarly, interdisciplinary account. We learn how music production initially by vibrating strings spurred the development of astronomy, analytical geometry, irrational number concepts, and optics. Music as cosmic metaphysics begins with the Pythagoreans and other classic Greek philosophers, passes through "music of the spheres" with search for harmony in a heliocentric system, and eventually reaches modern atomic wave theory. Along the way, the reader learns that the pioneers of mathematics and physics, such as Michael Stifel, Johannes Kepler, René Descartes, Issac Newton, Marin Euler, Thomas Young, and Hermann von Helmhotz, all used musical structures -- tones, harmonic polyphony, scales and modes, dissonance, consonance and their interval ratios -- as examples, analogies, and metaphors of their physical studies of sound, light, electricity, and matter and their essential mathematical relationships. Indeed, in the Renaissance, sound theory was, in turn, taken in consideration in composing motets and other scores. As in synaesthesia, investigators had assigned colors to sound. The wave/particle duality of matter made the development a rocky road with many provisional compromises, such as Euler's different frequencies of pulsing wavelets of light. Interestingly, Euler also focused on the aesthetics or psychology of tone intervals with a table of "degrees of agreeableness." Many such insightful steps fill the pages. Pesic does not mention how music as metaphysics is regarded in other cultures, such as in Sufi and Hindu principles, but in the final pages he does refer to contemporary Western multi-dimensional string theory. Considering that music is so central to humanity and well-being and that the cosmos is defined by waves and cycles, this book emphasizes how instrumental (pun intended) curiosity in music has advanced scientific and mathematical knowledge. Pesic deserves kudos for his fascinating reminder. This book may be of profound interest to historians of science, music, and philosophy but also to anyone with a deeply seated perception of music in its widest, John Cage environmental form as integral to life.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Polymath Makes His Case: Music Is Not Just A Pretty Sound 28. Juli 2014
Von Houseboat dweller - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Peter Pesic, physicist, musician and polymath who for many years was a tutor at St John's College Santa Fe where he taught in both the Western and Eastern Classics programs, has written a book to challenge and delight those who are interested in music, the history of science and "natural philosophy". Pesic would no doubt argue that this includes anyone with a modicum of interest and knowledge in these topics. This book has not been written exclusively for academic specialists in these fields although they will no doubt enjoy it. The book is written in a clear but provocative style that will engage and reward any inquisitive reader.

Pesic's thesis is that "music influenced the unfolding of science at many points and in different ways". He approaches this argument by presenting us with case histories of famous scientists and mathematicians whose scientific thinking was influenced by their experiences and understanding of music. Here the author would implore us to think of music as the Greeks did: the ancient concept of "mousike" having included mathematical and philosophical studies. So we read about Nicole Oresme' notions of the cosmos influenced by musical concepts, Michael Stifel who is the first to introduce the concept of "irrational numbers" in his discourse on music, Johannes Kepler who rejected thinking about astronomy that did not agree with his musical experience and Edwin Schrodinger who had little affinity for music but incorporated musical analogies in his theory of wave mechanics. I have given only a few examples of the interesting personalities Pesic discusses. Along the way the author describes the impact of music on a myriad of famous and not so famous (at least for me) thinkers. Each tale is engaging but ultimately these unique minds are introduced to us so Pesic can call to our attention how music played a fundamental role in the evolution of their profound contributions to science and mathematics.

Yet, the author is obviously comfortable in discussing much more than science and the reader will learn so much more than is implied in the book's title. This is an extraordinary intellectual journey. One can only imagine what a pleasure it would be conversing with Pesic. This is one of the most enjoyable and informative books I have read in a long time. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Please note: a very innovative e-book edition is available for iOS devices that allows the reader to listen to numerous "sound" examples cited throughout the text. The author has been thoughtful and generous in his chosen examples- they add immensely to the text and allow the reader to fully experience the author's arguments. The text is carefully referenced and a detailed reference lists provides the reader with a complete list of primary and secondary sources. The book is also well illustrated, printed on quality paper and well-bound.
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