1893 text

“Musicae Compendium.” By Rene Des Cartes, Amsterdam, 1617; rendered into English, London, 1653, 4to. The translator, whose name did not appear on the title, was William, Viscount Brouncker, Pepys’s colleague, who proved his knowledge of music by the performance.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

3 Annotations

First Reading

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Musicae Compendium
Trajecti ad Rhenum [Utrecht]: Gesberti a Zÿll, & Theodori ab Ackersdÿck, 1650.

Full Latin text of 1650:

Written c 1618 but only published posthumously, discussions:
History of the text:
Le Compendium Musicae de René Descartes

English Translation:
Brouncker, William Brouncker, Viscount, 1620 or 21-1684,
Renatus Des-Cartes excellent compendium of musick: with necessary and judicious animadversions thereupon. By a person of honour.
London : printed by Thomas Harper, for Humphrey Moseley, and are to bee sold at his shop at the signe of the Princes Armes in S. Pauls Church-Yard, and by Thomas Heath in Coven [sic] Garden, 1653.

4to., [16], 94, [2] p. : ill., diagrams, tables ;
Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), D1132

Brouncker published his English translation of Descartes' work but he added notes of his own which doubled the size of the text. Mersenne had proposed a scale of 12 equal semitones after Descartes' manuscript had been written and in his notes Brouncker proposed a variation of Mersenne's ideas but he divided the scale into 17 equal semitones which he derives algebraically using ratios based on the golden section.

Text appears available only through the subscription database "Early English Books on-line"

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Above links through to a paid service, & one that does not include the English text.

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