Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment

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Cambridge University Press, Dec 16, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 327 pages
3 Reviews
This is the first intellectual biography of the French composer and theorist Jean-Philippe Rameau. Rameau synthesised the vocabulary and grammar of musical practice into a concise scientific system, earning himself the popular title of 'Newton of the Arts'. Ranging widely over the musical and intellectual thought of the eighteenth century, Thomas Christensen is able to orient Rameau's accomplishments in the light of speculative and practical considerations of music theory as well as many of the scientific ideas current in the French Enlightenment. He shows how Rameau incorporates ideas ranging from neoplatonic thought and Cartesian mechanistic metaphysics to Locke's empirical psychology and Newtonian experimental science. Additional primary documents help clarify Rameau's fascinating and stormy relationship with the Encyclopedists, Diderot, Rousseau and d'Alembert.
  

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Contents

Rameau and the Enlightenment
5
Rameau as music theorist
21
Precursors of harmonic theory
43
The generative fundamental
71
The fundamental bass
103
The corps sonore
133
Mode and modulation
169
Rameau and the philosophes
209
The final years
291
A note on harmonic and arithmetic proportions
307
Select bibliography
313
Index of subjects
321
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References to this book

Tonal Pitch Space
Fred Lerdahl
Limited preview - 2001
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About the author (2004)

Thomas Christensen is Professor of Music and the Humanities at the University of Chicago.

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