“Perfect Harmony“ and “melting strains“. Music in Early Modern Culture between Sensibility and Abstraction; 1.-3.Dec.2011 | cfp.english.upenn.edu
by Jessica C. Murphy
In Early Modern culture, philosophers, musicians, theologians, and poets grappled with the ambivalent nature of music. Music was perceived as a phenomenon occupying an ambiguous position between mathematical abstraction and sensual experience. In the Pythagorean-Platonic tradition, music was understood as euphonic mathematics replicating the perfection and beauty of a transcendent cosmic order. At the same time, the emotive and physiological effects of actual musical experience proved it to be a sensuous phenomenon of insistent immediacy and affective power.