Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
The Cambridge History of ... has been added to your Cart
+ CDN$ 6.49 shipping
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by calibris
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Ships from the USA. Please allow 10-15 business days for delivery. Excellent customer service!
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory Hardcover – May 13 2002

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
CDN$ 326.95
CDN$ 326.95 CDN$ 212.01

Save an Additional 10% on Textbooks When you Join Amazon Student

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Amazon Student members save an additional 10% on Textbooks with promo code TEXTBOOK10. Enter code TEXTBOOK10 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1022 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 13 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521623715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521623711
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 5.2 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,053,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"This first single-volume history of music theory in English is a significant addition to literature about music. [...] It should be part of all academic music collections" Choice

"[This] work is an extremely valuable contribution to the history of music theory...the essays are of high quality, and the scholarship is impeccable...Nearly every reader will find something of value herein. The book can serve both as a reference work and as a snapshot of current theoretical opinion. It belongs on the shelf of every scholar who has a serious interest in music theory and its development." Isis

This remarkable book not only offers the reader a detailed account of the entire history of theoretical writing about Western music from the ancient Greeks to modern times, but also provides an incisive critique of the original objectives and ultimate significance of such writing. The various contributors are all specialists well able to encapsulate as well as clarify the essence of complex materials. In addition, the excellent selection of plates, tables and examples, coupled with comprehensive bibliographies, provides rich and vivid contexts for subject-matter that is never merely abstract, but satisfyingly linked to the particulars of musical works. All teachers, researchers and students who take music seriously will find The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory enormously stimulating.--Arnold Whittall, Professor Emeritus of Music Theory & Analysis, King's College London

Book Description

The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory is the first comprehensive history of Western music theory to be published in the English language. A collaborative project by leading music theorists and historians, the volume traces the rich panorama of music-theoretical thought from the Ancient Greeks to the present day. Richly enhanced with illustrations, graphics, examples and cross-citations, as well as being thoroughly indexed and supplemented by comprehensive bibliographies, this book will be an invaluable resource for students and scholars alike.

See all Product Description

Inside This Book

(Learn More)
First Sentence
Music theory, Carl Dahlhaus has warned us, is a subject that notoriously resists its own history. Read the first page
Explore More
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

There are no customer reviews yet on
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9d61c828) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By Dr. Lee D. Carlson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Even if one is not a professional musician, music theory can still hold a particular fascination for anyone who is curious about the organization behind music, its physical foundations, and its composition. This book gives an overview of its history through the eyes of academic experts and is sure to please any reader who desires such a summary without getting into the details. Several references accompany each article for those readers who need more in-depth discussion. This reviewer was mainly interested in the mathematical and physical foundations of music theory, and so read only two articles in the book. The review will be confined to these articles therefore.

The article entitled "Music Theory and Mathematics" written by Catherine Nolan naturally begins with a discussion of the Pythagorean influence and its going beyond merely numerical ratios to sophisticated mathematical models incorporating geometry, combinatorics, and algebra. And although the author does not give discuss it, the Pythagorean and neo-Pythagorean influence has found its way into efforts to automate musical composition in the field of artificial intelligence. These efforts have yielded impressive results, and have produced musical pieces that are definitely satisfying to the human ear. The author though gives a highly interesting discussion of the developments over the centuries since the days of the Pythagoreans, particularly the influence of the advances in both physics and mathematics. This was especially true in the seventeenth century, where physics really began to take off, and offered a more realistic foundation for musical theory. There are many other gems to be found in this article, where the reader for example will read about the contributions of Gioseffo Zarlino, the Italian musical theorist and composer who in 1558 extended the Pythagorean `tetractys' to what he called the `senario' and which provided in his view a theoretical justification for the imperfect consonances. The reader will also be exposed to the use of combinatorics to build musical compositions, such that when carried to extreme where are possibilities are considered, one obtains according to the author compositions that go beyond the usual harmonic and melodic syntax. Mersenne's table of possible melodies from 1 to 22 notes is illustrated is illustrated in this article. One also encounters the use of modular arithmetic in the equal temperament scale. The most interesting discussion though in this article is the one David Lewin's use of transformation theory in defining what he calls the `generalized interval system' and `transformation network' The author points to the Lewin musical models as giving an uncountable(!) number of conceivable musical spaces available to music theorists.

Another very interesting article in the book is the one entitled "The Role of Harmonics in the Scientific Revolution" by Penelope Gouk. At first glance one might think that this article is written from the odd "postmodern" viewpoint that to a large extent still permeates historical criticism. It is not however, and the author details a fascinating account of the impact of `harmonics' in the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Most interesting is her assertion that the application of mathematics before the seventeenth century was thought of as `natural magic', which is defined as essentially the use of "occult" forces to bring about changes or effects. Natural magic is to be distinguished from "demonic" magic that makes use of immaterial and intelligent beings or "demons." Thus the phenomenon of "sympathetic resonance" between two bodies was integrated into the new experimental sciences. Readers will remember that Isaac Newton was severely criticized for his universal theory of gravitation due to the belief by some at the time that it's action-at-a-distance property had an "occult" quality to it. But the physics of vibrating strings was developed in due time, and this along with the reaction of Enlightenment philosophers against any traces of the "occult" in experimental science was a reason for the acceptance of harmonics as reasonable and scientific. Extreme views of sympathy were elaborated however proposed, one due to Robert Fludd and discussed by the author in this article. Parts of the universe he thought were "sympathetically interrelated" with actions in one part having influence on another. It is fascinating to contemplate in retrospect that the physical behavior of the pendulum and the vibrating string held so much sway in the minds of philosophers, scientists, and mystics. This continues to this day of course, but in a much more elaborate manner, going by the name of string theory. Any vestiges of the occult are not present in any modern physical theory, and action-at-a-distance has been essentially replaced by the curvature-of-spacetime paradigm of Albert Einstein. Very loosely speaking however, the combination of the (quantized) vibrating string and the Einstein notion of gravity as being curvature of spacetime is what string theory is all about. Harmonics in this sense is therefore alive and well and is deeply integrated into the physics community at the present time.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d3d5678) out of 5 stars It's well worth the price! Sept. 30 2005
By KyrC - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is a very important and useful survey of all major areas of western music theory, including both its history, and current state of things.

Surely it is a bit pricey, but it is a treasury of information and is necessary, I think, to every researcher in the field of music theory and related (interdisciplinary) areas. It also covers psychology of music, and methodology of teaching music. Every chapter tries to give a complete, if brief, overview of the subject, and bibliography is simply great. You won't regret buying it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d3d58b8) out of 5 stars A unique and complete synthesis Aug. 24 2009
By WALLER - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of articles by scholars on every aspects of music theory at every period of Western history. Smart,complete and accurate,it synthesises the more recent researches on all those subjects. A treasure and a reference for all musicologists in the world.
HASH(0x9d3d5c18) out of 5 stars Interesting and enjoyable reading for theory nerds Sept. 9 2015
By Cembalista - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is really more of a library book, but there are some extremely interesting chapters if you are a theory person—the book itself just feels so nice without the library binding! It is not a survey of music theory, as the title may suggest to some, but is instead a series of in-depth chapters on specific topics pertinent to the development of theory in western music.
30 of 47 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d3d59cc) out of 5 stars You're kidding. A semi-hemi isn't a Chrysler 18-wheeler? Is that a hemi-semi? Dec 24 2008
By Paul Suni - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you ever itched to buy the Oxford English Dictionary but could never quite justify it, this is your chance. Buy this book and you will have an excellent excuse to buy the OED. While you are out shopping, it would also be sensible to pick up a Greek dictionary and a multi-volume course in latin.