Who Loves Music Hear...???
December 11, 2006 8:21am CST
The word music comes from the Greek mousikê (tekhnê) by way of the Latin musica. It is ultimately derived from mousa, the Greek word for muse. In ancient Greece, the word mousike was used to mean any of the arts or sciences governed by the Muses. Later, in Rome, ars musica embraced poetry as well as instrument-oriented music. In the European Middle Ages, musica was part of the mathematical quadrivium - arithmetics, geometry, astronomy and musica. The concept of musica was split into three major kinds: musica universalis, musica humana, and musica instrumentalis. Of those, only the last - musica instrumentalis - referred to music as performed sound. Musica universalis or musica mundana referred to the order of the universe, as god had created it in "measure, number and weight". The proportions of the spheres of the planets and stars (which at the time were still thought to revolve around the earth) were perceived as a form of music, without necessarily implying that any sound would be heard - music refers strictly to the mathematical proportions. From this concept later resulted the romantic idea of a music of the spheres. Musica humana designated the proportions of the human body. These were thought to reflect the proportions of the Heavens and as such, to be an expression of god's greatness. To Medieval thinking, all things were connected with each other - a mode of thought that finds its traces today in the occult sciences or esoteric thought - ranging from astrology to believing certain minerals have certain beneficiary effects. Musica instrumentalis, finally, was the lowliest of the three disciplines and referred to the manifestation of those same mathematical proportions in sound - be it sung or played on instruments. The polyphonic organization of different melodies to sound at the same time was still a relatively new invention then, and it is understandable that the mathematical or physical relationships in frequency that give rise to the musical intervals as we hear them, should be foremost among the preoccupations of Medieval musicians.