By Anathasius Kircher, full title: Musurgia Universalis, sive Ars magna consoni et dissoni, published 1650. From Wikipedia:

The book includes plans for constructing water-powered automatic organs, notations of birdsong and diagrams of musical instruments. One illustration shows the differences between the ears of humans and other animals. In Phonurgia Nova (1673) Kircher considered the possibilities of transmitting music to remote places.

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First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Athanasius KIRCHER's MUSURGIA UNIVERSALIS sive Ars Magna Consoni et Dissoni in X libros digesta, qua universa sonorum doctrinam et philosophia, musicaequae tam teoricae quam praticae scientia summa varietate traditur; admirandae consoni et dissoni in mundo, adeoque universa natura vires effectusque, uti nova, ita peregrin variorum speciminum exibitione ad singulares usus tum in omnipotente facultate, tum potissimum in philologia, mathematica, phisica, mecanica, medicina, politica, metaphisica, theologia, aperiuntur et demonstrantur.
Rome: Francesco Corbelletti [II Ludovico Grignani], 1650. 2 volumes.

"An extraordinary undertaking by this Jesuit polymath, sometimes referred to as "the last Renaissance man," author of approximately 40 works in a diversity of disciplines. The Musurgia was an attempt to present the entire body of musical knowledge up to Kircher's time, and is particularly valuable for both its engraved plates of musical instruments and its inclusion of extensive musical examples, many of which are complete 16th and 17th century works chosen to illustrate various styles. The work is widely considered to have been a great success, with Kircher's wide-ranging and insightful scholarship. "... Musurgia universalis, one of the really influential works of music theory, was drawn upon by almost every later German music theorist until well into the 18th century...""... Much of Kircher's contrapuntal doctrine derives from Zarlino, and in this and some other respects Musurgia universalis presents a synthesis of 16th- and 17th-century Italian and German compositional practices. A specifically German feature, however, is the description of the affective nature of music, in which Kircher brought the concept of musica pathetica into relation with the formal constructive elements of rhetorical doctrine..." "... His ideas concerning the classification of musical styles, based on sociological as well as national characteristics, are also original and important for the study of Baroque music... Although he was apparently not a practising musician he was able to identify the best music composed and performed in his own (and earlier) times. In Musurgia universalis he quoted frequently extensive music examples from composers such as Agazzari, Gregorio Allegri, Carissimi, Froberger, Gesualdo, Kapsberger, Domenico Mazzocchi and Morales. Other aspects of his treatise that contribute to an understanding of 17th-century musical thought include the lengthy discussions of acoustics, musical instruments..., the history of music in ancient cultures and the therapeutic value of music." George J. Buelow in Grove onlineCopies of this monumental work are often found to be lacking one or more plates and, in addition, are usually quite trimmed. The present copy is complete and has good margins throughout. Arguably the most spectacular 17th century book on music; a cornerstone of the literature."…

Images of 13 plates from Musurgia Universalis on Flickr.…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.