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Nathan John Martin
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)
The Philosophers' Rameau: Music Theory in the Encyclopédie

Research and writing of a book-length study of the music theory of Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) and French Enlightenment debates about human knowledge.

The Philosophers' Rameau investigates how and why the music-theoretical writings of Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) came to be prominently featured in the main publishing organ of the French Enlightenment: Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie. The answer is that the philosophes' found in Rameau's theory of harmony a succinct illustration of their own scientific epistemology. For this reason, the structure of the Encyclopédie's exposition of Rameau comes to mirror that of its account of human knowledge as a whole. The initially veiled and the progressively more overt critique of Rameau that Rousseau developed across his articles on music, and which d'Alembert subsequently appropriated, thus redounded on the Encyclopédie itself and in the end threatened its editors' global project. My book's chief methodological novelty lies in its emphasis on the interpenetration between technical questions of music theory and broader issues of scientific method and philosophical psychology.

Project fields:
History of Philosophy; Intellectual History; Music History and Criticism

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2018 – 7/31/2018