Al-Fārābī’s Conception of Music Theory as the Universal Science of Melody

In: Oriens
Alison Laywine Department of Philosophy, McGill University Montreal Canada

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Al-Fārābī conceived of music theory as a universal science of melody whose task is to determine the whole range of what is musically possible. It does not restrict itself to codifying the conventions of any particular musical idiom. In this, it is akin to logic – the universal science of all things thinkable, which does not reduce to the grammar of any given natural language.

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