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Throughout history every society has searched for some way to express its feelings and beliefs Music has been an integral part of virtually every culture so it is quite natural for people to havewritten about this subject More literature has survived than actual music which leaves modernscholars with the job of translating interpreting and trying to understand the writings of peopleprior to modern musical notation Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius wrote and translated manybooks on subjects he felt were important to the education of future generations Of particularinterest is his book The Fundamentals of Music De institutione musica Even though this bookis no longer used as a basis for music education it has had a lasting impact on music history andBoethius was born either in or around Rome sometime around the year 480 AD His fatherdied when he was only seven and he was taken in and raised by one of the wealthiest aristocratsof the time Symmachus Boethius received an exceptional education married Symmachussdaughter and led an esteemed career as a politician writer and scholar until he was imprisonedand executed in 524 Boethiuss works may be divided into four categories in chronologicalorder didactic works treatises on the mathematical disciplines the logical works in essencetranslations or commentaries on Aristotle Cicero and Porphyry the theological treatises worksexpounding orthodox Christian doctrine by the philosophical method and the Consolation ofPhilosophy a purely philosophical treatise written in prison1 It is the first category which dealswith the mathematical disciplines that contains his Fundamentals of Music At the time Boethiuswrote these books music was considered one of the mathematical subjects along with arithmeticgeometry and astronomy Boethius described these disciplines as the Quadrivium the fourfoldpath to the knowledge of essences- things unaffected by material substance2 The fact thatmusic was considered one of the mathematical disciplines is interesting to modern people since itis now considered part of the arts and on nearly the opposite end of the spectrum from math Math is now considered strict
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