Medicine musica: the eighteenth-century rationalization of music and medicine
London, United Kingdom
Instruments de musique, 1770 Anne Vallayer-Coster Musée du Louvre, Paris
“Legends of music’s healing powers on both the mind and the body are estimated to go as far back as Paleolithic times, when music was believed to be a magic that could drive away the angry spirits that caused illness.
It wasn’t until the beginnings of learned medicine in the Greek-Roman, Arabic, Indian, and Chinese traditions that theories of music’s medicinal qualities began to be recorded. But from here on, they became a popular topic for discussion. In the Greek tradition alone, the Mycenean god Pajawo of 2000 BC used holy song to cure disease, and Apollo combined roles as healer and musician.
And even amongst mere mortals, The Odyssey told of the bleeding of Odysseus’s wounds from a wild boar only being stopped with a musical incantation; and the poet Pratinas in the 6th century BC recorded a plague in Sparta being quelled by the music of the composer Thaletas.”
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