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date: 20 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

There is no more systematically organized set of reflections regarding a specific art form than those that appear in a brief treatise offered to Isaac Beeckman on the New Year of 1619 and published shortly after its author’s death in 1650—namely, Descartes’s Compendium Musicae. Well before their meeting in the fall of 1618, Beeckman was hoping to advance musical theory by updating the experiments and the physical hypotheses concerning the nature of sonic phenomena, and especially consonance, which he did by making a significant contribution to the theory of vibrating strings. In this way, he incited Descartes to pursue experiments and formulate hypotheses that come together systematically in the Compendium Musicae. It makes sense, then, to approach the more general question of the relationship between Descartes and artistic and aesthetic questions by beginning with the theory of music in the Compendium Musicae.

Keywords: music, art, harmonics, sound, aesthetics

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