John Wallis (1616-1703), was one of the foremost British mathematicians of the seventeenth century, and is also remembered for his important writings on grammar and logic. An interest in music theory led him to produce translations into Latin of three ancient Greek texts - those of Ptolemy, Porphyry and Bryennius - and involved him in discussions with Henry Oldenburg, the Secretary of the Royal Society, Thomas Salmon and other individuals as his ideas developed. The texts presented in this volume cover the relationship of ancient and modern tuning theory, the building of organs, the phenomena of resonance, and other musical topics.
Contents: Introduction; Letters to Henry Oldenburg, May 1664; Letters to Henry Oldenburg, March 1677; ’The harmonics of the ancients compared with today’s’: appendix to Ptolemy’s Harmonics, 1682; Notice of Wallis’s edition of Ptolemy’s Harmonics in the Philosophical Transactions, January 1683; ’A question in musick’, Philosophical Transactions March 1698; A letter to Samuel Pepys, June 1698; Letters to Andrew Fletcher, August 1698; Select Bibliography; Index.
The purpose of this series is to provide critical editions of music theory in Britain (primarily England, but Scotland, Ireland and Wales also) from 1500 to 1700. By 'theory' is meant all sorts of writing about music, from textbooks aimed at the beginner to treatises written for a more sophisticated audience. These foundational texts have immense value in revealing attitudes, ways of thinking and even vocabulary crucial for understanding and analysing music. They reveal beliefs about the power of music, its function in society and its role in education, and they furnish valuable information about performance practice and about the context of performance. They are a window into musical culture every bit as important as the music itself.
The editions in this series present the text in its original form. That is, they retain original spelling, capitalization and punctuation, as well as certain salient features of the type, for example, the choice of font. A textual commentary in each volume offers an explication of difficult or unfamiliar terminology as well as suggested corrections of printing errors; the introduction situates the work and its author in a larger historical context.
Jessie Ann Owens is assisted on the series by Series Assistant Editor, Minji Kim.