Pythagoras's Theory Of Music Essay

997 words - 4 pages

Pythagoras was born approximately 570 B.C. on Samos, an island located near the western coast of Asia Minor. It is said that mathematicians such as Thales and Anaximander had tutored him. Thales had influenced him to pursue his education in Egypt. In 525 BC, when Cambyses II conquered Egypt, Pythagoras was held captive in Babylon where he became associated with the Magi priesthood; under their teachings, he grew more knowledgeable in mathematics, geometry, and music.

Pythagoras founded the Pythagorean School of Mathematics in Cortona and the semicircle.

Around 518 BC, in southern Italy, Pythagoras was the head of a mathematical society with an inner circle of followers known as mathematikoi. Pythagoras’s followers lived permanently with the Society, had no personal possessions and were vegetarians. The beliefs that Pythagoras held were that at its deepest level, reality is mathematical in nature, that philosophy can be used for spiritual purification,that the soul can rise to union with the divine, that certain symbols have a mystical significance, and that all brothers of the order should observe strict loyalty and secrecy.

Although we have some idea of what Pythagoras studied (properties of numbers that are similar to modern mathematics, such as even and odd numbers, triangular numbers, perfect numbers) his teachings within the schools and the society were very secretive and mysterious. There is little information pertaining to his process of creating famous mathematical formulas such as the Pythagorean Theorem (a2 + b2 = c2).

Among the many other mysteries surrounding Pythagoras, the cause of his death remains one of the most famous. There are two theories 1) There was an uprising against the Pythagoreans that caused the city of Croton to be burned down and Pythagoras was killed by rebels while fleeing. 2) Pythagoras died of starvation while taking refuge in the Temple of the Muses.

Although he contributed greatly to the world of mathematics, Pythagoras was more famous for his views on the human soul and his strict lifestyle; however, he held on to a strong belief that math was the key to the universe. Pythagoras created the Pythagorean Theorem: "The area of the square built upon the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares upon the remaining sides.” (a2 + b2 = c2)

Pythagoras also believed that music could be quantified through math. This aided in the discover of the Pythagorean Scale. He studied the musical scale and the ratios between various lengths of vibrating strings. Pythagoras believed that the string length (with equal amounts of strain) depends on 1/frequency, those ratios also provided a correspondence between the frequencies of the notes.

Many believe that he succeeded in his discovery because he considered intervals of the octave (a factor of 2 in frequency) and intervals of fifths (a factor of 3/2 in frequency). The scale divides the octave with intervals of "Tones" (a...

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