Aristoxĕnus Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
（Ἀριστόξενος). A Greek philosopher and musician, a native of Tarentum, and a pupil of Aristotle. He lived about B.C. 330, and was a prolific writer on various subjects, but most particularly on music. In contrast with the Pythagoreans, who referred everything to the relations of numbers, he regarded music as founded on the difference of tones as perceived by the ear. Of his Ἁρμονικὰ Στοιχεῖα three books are preserved, but they are neither complete nor in their original shape. They have been edited by Marquard (Berlin, 1869) and Saran (Leipzig, 1893). Only a part of his Ῥυθμικὰ Στοιχεῖα has survived.
Aristoxenus in Wikipedia
Aristoxenus (Greek: Ἀριστόξενος; fl. 335 BC) of Tarentum was a Greek Peripatetic philosopher, and a pupil of Aristotle. Most of his writings, which dealt with philosophy, ethics and music, have been lost, but one musical treatise, Elements of Harmony, survives incomplete, as well as some fragments concerning rhythm and meter.
Aristoxenus was born at Tarentum, and was the son of a learned musician named Spintharus (otherwise Mnesias). He learned music from his father, and having then been instructed by Lamprus of Erythrae and Xenophilus the Pythagorean, he finally became a pupil of Aristotle, whom he appears to have rivaled in the variety of his studies. According to the Suda, he heaped insults on Aristotle after his death, because Aristotle had designated Theophrastus as the next head of the Peripatetic school, a position which Aristoxenus himself had coveted having achieved great distinction as a pupil of Aristotle. This story is, however, contradicted by Aristocles, who asserts that he never mentioned Aristotle but with the greatest respect.
Overview of his works
His writings, said to have consisted of four hundred and fifty-three books, were in the style of Aristotle, and dealt with philosophy, ethics and music. The only work of his that has come down to us is the three books of the Elements of Harmony, an incomplete musical treatise. Aristoxenus' theory had an empirical tendency; in music he held that the notes of the scale are to be judged, not as the Pythagoreans held, by mathematical ratio, but by the ear. Vitruvius in his De architectura paraphrases the writings of Aristoxenus on music. His ideas were responded to and developed by some later theorists such as Archestratus, and his place in the methodological debate between rationalists and empiricists was commented upon by such writers as Ptolemais of Cyrene.
The theory that the soul is a "harmony" of the four elements composing the body, and therefore mortal ("nothing at all," in the words of Cicero), was ascribed to Aristoxenus (fr. 118-121 Wehrli) and Dicaearchus. This theory is comparable to the one offered by Simmias in Plato's Phaedo.
In his Elements of Harmony, Aristoxenus attempted a complete and systematic exposition of music. The first book contains an explanation of the genera of Greek music, and also of their species; this is followed by some general definitions of terms, particularly those of sound, interval, and system. In the second book Aristoxenus divides music into seven parts, which he takes to be: the genera, intervals, sounds, systems, tones or modes, mutations, and melopoeia. The remainder of the work is taken up with a discussion of the many parts of music according to the order which he had himself prescribed.
Aristoxenus rejected the opinion of the Pythagoreans that arithmetic rules were the ultimate judge of intervals and that in every system there must be found a mathematical coincidence before such a system can be said to be harmonic. In his second book he asserted that "by the hearing we judge of the magnitude of an interval, and by the understanding we consider its many powers." And further he wrote, "that the nature of melody is best discovered by the perception of sense, and is retained by memory; and that there is no other way of arriving at the knowledge of music;" and though, he wrote, "others affirm that it is by the study of instruments that we attain this knowledge;" this, he wrote, is talking wildly, "for just as it is not necessary for him who writes an Iambic to attend to the arithmetical proportions of the feet of which it is composed, so it is not necessary for him who writes a Phrygian song to attend to the ratios of the sounds proper thereto."
Thus the nature of Aristoxenus' scales and genera deviated sharply from his predecessors. Aristoxenus introduced a radically different model for creating scales. Instead of using discrete ratios to place intervals, he used continuously variable quantities. Hence the structuring of his tetrachords and the resulting scales have other qualities of consonance.
On rhythmics and metrics
Part of the second book of a work on rhythmics and metrics, Elementa rhythmica, is preserved in medieval manuscript tradition.
Aristoxenus was also the author of a work On the Primary Duration (chronos).
A five-column fragment of a treatise on meter (POxy 9/2687) was published in Grenfell and Hunt's Oxyrhynchus Papyri, vol. 1 (1898) and is probably by Aristoxenus.
The edition of Wehrli presents the surviving evidence for works with the following titles (not including several fragments of uncertain origin):
* Life of Pythagoras (Πυθαγόρου βίος): fr. 11 Wehrli
* On Pythagoras and his pupils (Περὶ Πυθαγόρου καὶ τῶν γνωρίμων αὐτοῦ): fr. 14 Wehrli
* On the Pythagorean life (Περὶ τοῦ Πυθαγορικοῦ βίου): fr. 31 Wehrli
* Pythagorean maxims or Pythagorean negations (Πυθαγορικαὶ ἀποφάσεις): fr. 34 Wehrli
* Educational customs or Rules of education (Παιδευτικοὶ νόμοι): fr. 42-43 Wehrli
* Political laws (Πολιτικοὶ νόμοι): fr. 44-45 Wehrli
* Mantinean character (Μαντινέων ἔθη): fr. 45, I, lines 1-9 Wehrli
* Praise of Mantineans (Μαντινέων ἐγκώμιον): fr. 45, I, lines 10-12 Wehrli
* Life of Archytas (Ἀρχύτα βίος): fr. 47-50 Wehrli
* Life of Socrates (Σωκράτους βίος): fr. 54 Wehrli
* Life of Plato (Πλάτωνος βίος): fr. 64 Wehrli
* On tonoi (Περὶ τόνων): a brief quotation in Porphyry's commentary on Ptolemy's Harmonics, p. 78 Düring (not edited by Wehrli)
* On music (Περὶ μουσικῆς): fr. 80, 82, 89 Wehrli
* On listening to music or Lecture course on music (Μουσικὴ ἀκρόασις): fr. 90 Wehrli
* On Praxidamas (Πραξιδαμάντεια): fr. 91 Wehrli
* On melodic composition or On music in lyric poetry (Περὶ μελοποιίας): fr. 93 Wehrli
* On musical instruments (Περὶ ὀργάνων): fr. 94-95, 102 Wehrli
* On auloi (Περὶ αὐλῶν): fr. 96 Wehrli
* On auletes (Περὶ αὐλητῶν): fr. 100 Wehrli
* On the boring of auloi (Περὶ αὐλῶν τρήσεως): fr. 101 Wehrli
* On choruses (Περὶ χορῶν): fr. 103 Wehrli
* On tragic dancing (Περὶ τραγικῆς ὀρχήσεως): fr. 104-106 Wehrli
* Comparisons of dances (Συγκρίσεις): fr. 109 Wehrli
* On tragic poets (Περὶ τραγῳδοποιῶν): fr. 113 Wehrli
* Life of Telestes (Τελέστου βίος): fr. 117 Wehrli (according to whom this Telestes is the dithyrambic poet)
* Miscellaneous table talk or Sympotic miscellany (Σύμμικτα συμποτικά): fr. 124 Wehrli
* Notes or Memorabilia (Ὑπομνήματα), Historical notes (Ἱστορικὰ ὑπομνήματα), Brief notes (Κατὰ βραχὺ ὑπομνήματα), Miscellaneous notes (Σύμμικτα ὑπομνήματα), Random jottings (Τὰ σποράδην): fr. 128-132, 139 Wehrli