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Huygens et la théorie musicale

André Charrak
Revue d'histoire des sciences
Vol. 56, No. 1 (JANVIER-JUIN 2003), pp. 59-78
Published by: Armand Colin
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23634044
Page Count: 20
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Huygens et la théorie musicale
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Abstract

Bien qu'elles soient pour l'essentiel consacrées à des questions techniques (les méthodes de division de l'octave susceptibles de fournir le meilleur tempérament), les nombreuses contributions de Huygens en théorie musicale abordent l'ensemble des problèmes fondamentaux de la théorie musicale à l'âge classique : les rapports entre musique et mathématiques, que Huygens examine en dehors du cadre traditionnel de la théorie des proportions en réfléchissant l'utilisation généralisée des logarithmes; l'explication physique des consonances, dont l'auteur du Nouveau cycle harmonique (1691) tire des résultats très originaux en associant le nombre 7 aux éléments du senario zarlinien. Huygens développe en outre une hypothèse novatrice sur le développement historique des ressources musicales, qui met en rapport l'admission de nouveaux intervalles (qui sera effective au siècle suivant) avec celle des tierces, réalisée à la fin du XVIe siècle. Il propose ainsi une véritable théorie de l'harmonie baroque, comprise en son histoire The most important part of Huygens' writings on musical theory is devoted to technical matters (the methods of the partition of the octave that are likely to create the best temperament). However, these numerous texts tackle the whole set of fundamental problems of musical theory in the classical age. These include the links between music and mathematics, which Huygens studies without considering the traditionnal theory of proportions. He did so instead by thinking deeply about the systematic use of logarithms. He also worked on the physical explanation of consonance, from which the author of the Nouveau Cycle harmonique (1691) obtained very original results by relating the positive integer 7 to the elements of the Zarlinian senario. Moreover, Huygens made an innovative hypothesis concerning the historical development of future possibilities in music, which associated the introduction of new intervals (which were applied in the next century) with that of thirds (which were achieved at the end of the 16th century). Thus he proposed a genuine theory of Baroque harmony, which I set in a historical context.

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