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Ptolemy - An artiste's painting

Claudius Ptolemy (90 AD - 168 AD) was an Egyptian astronomer, mathematician, and geographer of Greek descent who resided in Alexandria, Egypt, during the 2nd century AD. In several fields, his writings represent the culminating achievement of Greco-Roman science, particularly his geocentric (Earth-centred) model of the universe now known as the Ptolemaic system.

Ptolemy also wrote an influential work, Harmonics, on music theory and the mathematics of music. After criticizing the approaches of his predecessors, Ptolemy argued for basing musical intervals on mathematical ratios (in contrast to the followers of Aristoxenus and in agreement with the followers of Pythagoras), backed up by empirical observation (in contrast to the overly theoretical approach of the Pythagoreans). Ptolemy wrote about how musical notes could be translated into mathematical equations and vice versa in Harmonics. This is called Pythagorean tuning because it was first discovered by Pythagoras.

External Links

Ptolemy at Wikipedia


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