Is there a medieval ‘music and philosophy’?

CFP for themed session:

Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group Biennial Conference

CFP deadline: 21 December 2018

Conference information: 11–12 July 2019, Strand Campus, King’s College London


Premodern and early-modern uses of the term ‘musica’ encompass a broad range of meanings, which include some things that we might today be happy to call music and others that we might rather call philosophy. We can turn for instance to Boethius’ famous division of musica into cosmic music, human music, and music which rests in certain instruments (Bower 1989). Indeed the influence of musica extends far into medieval natural philosophy, in which it was fundamental to the development of cosmological models (Hicks 2017). But musica was only one interface between the musical and the philosophical; in the course of a long middle ages many other disciplinary perspectives were brought to bear to differently negotiate the relationship between music and ethics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language (for example Leach 2007).

Scholars working on music and philosophy in later centuries have made use of a capacious definition of philosophy to draw out a complex and changing set of interactions, overlaps, and relations between the musical and the philosophical. The many medieval negotiations of music and philosophy offer an opportunity to reflect upon the ‘prehistories’ of ideas more usually discussed under that subdisciplinary heading, and to occasion a productive dialogue between medievalists and scholars of later centuries about the commonalities and shared concerns as well as areas of productive difference in their work.

Papers are welcome on any aspect of music and philosophy in a long middle ages with reference to Latin, Arabic, or any other musical or philosophical tradition.

*Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Nicholas David Yardley Ball,, before 21 December 2018.*