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Religions 2015, 6(1), 211-220;

Augustine’s De Musica in the 21st Century Music Classroom

Music Department, Dordt College, 498 4th Ave NE, Sioux Center, IA 51250, USA
Academic Editors: Scott McGinnis and Chris Metress
Received: 12 January 2015 / Revised: 24 February 2015 / Accepted: 27 February 2015 / Published: 12 March 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Teaching Augustine)
PDF [183 KB, uploaded 12 March 2015]


Augustine’s De musica is all that remains of his ambitious plan to write a cycle of works describing each of the liberal arts in terms of Christian faith and is actually unfinished; whereas the six books extant today primarily examine rhythm, Augustine intended to write about melody also. The sixth book of De musica was better known in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages than the first five, and it takes up philosophical questions of aesthetics related to the proportionate ordering discernable throughout creation. After a brief introduction summarizing De musica’s content and its importance in subsequent Christian writings, my presentation outlines and explains how I have used this document in my own music classes. For example, my students learn that a vital notion in Augustine’s writings, and in Neoplatonism more broadly, is the spiritual benefit of academic study. That is, through study of music, one gains insight into the created order, but, more importantly, one’s soul is strengthened and trained to perceive higher realities of the cosmos such as the ordering of the planetary spheres and the progression of celestial hierarchies, which span the spiritual distance from God to humanity. View Full-Text
Keywords: Augustine; De musica; music; Neoplatonism Augustine; De musica; music; Neoplatonism
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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MacInnis, J. Augustine’s De Musica in the 21st Century Music Classroom. Religions 2015, 6, 211-220.

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