For most of us, music is something very present in our daily lives, whether when listening or when we are not listening to the music itself, all the sound elements that permeate us throughout the day end up becoming a kind of soundtrack for the events of our lives.
But have you ever stopped to think who would be the first or first to theorize about music and thus turn it into a science/art?
Of course, this question doesn’t have a correct answer. But the first man we know that come up with a valid theory about the construction of musical intervals was the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras.
Who was Pythagoras?
Pythagoras lived from around 570 BC to 490 BC. He was an Ionian Greek philosopher and mathematician credited with founding the movement called Pythagoreanism. Most information about Pythagoras written centuries after he lived. Therefore, so there is little reliable information about him.
Pythagoras spent his childhood in Samos but travelled extensively with his father. He played the Lira, learned arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and poetry.
In about 535 BC, Pythagoras travelled to Egypt. A few years after at Samos by the tyrant Polycrates, he saw the temples and learned from the local priests.
The inventor of the monochord
Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans were credited with inventing the monochord. Monochord is known today as the fundamental instrument for the elaboration of the theory of musical intervals.
The Pythagoreans were the only ones until Aristotle scientifically substantiate music, beginning to develop it and becoming those most concerned about this subject.
According to the legend, when passing in front of a blacksmith’s workshop, he noticed that the strikes of hammers of different weights produced sounds that were pleasant to the ear and combined very well.
In researching these sounds, Pythagoras would have stretched a musical chord that produced a certain sound that took the tone as fundamental. He made marks on the string that divided it into twelve equal sections. This instrument would later be called a monochord, which resembles a guitar but has only one string. Thus the fractions of 1/2, 3/4, 2/3 corresponded to the octave, the fourth and the fifth.