Music and Philosophy: Contemporary Challenges


The ties between music and philosophy are strong and venerable, as they date back to the very beginnings of the latter. According to the ancient tale, Pythagoras, when passing by a smithy one day, noticed that the hammers make sounds of different pitch and, more importantly, that some of the pitch combinations feel pleasant on the ear while the others sound rather harsh. Intrigued by this phenomenon, the ancient sage began to further investigate it with the so called monochord (being just a plank with a string attached to it which could be shortened at any chosen position to alter the pitch). Thus he discovered that the successions of two sounds that sound pleasant (or, to use a more technical term, consonant) could be achieved if the string is being shortened by 1:2, 2:3 or 3:4. Pythagoras could not be more satisfied with this finding, as it proved his claim that the universe is, on its hidden and true level, based upon an intelligible mathematical structure, and, moreover, that a key to understanding this structure is the Holy Tetractys, a figure representing the first four natural numbers in the form of a regular triangle.

How to cite:

Rychter, Marcin. “Music and Philosophy: Contemporary Challenges.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 3, no. 3(9) (2019): 1–4. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2019.0026.


Marcin Rychter
Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw
Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00-927 Warsaw, Poland

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