New research refutes Pythagoras' musical theory

Bylim Olena

New research refutes Pythagoras' musical theory
Music classes. Source: Pavel Danilyuk/pexels.com

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge, Princeton, and the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics challenges the music theory of the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras.

Pythagoras argued that "consonance", a pleasant-sounding combination of notes in music, is created by a special interaction between prime numbers, GreekReporter writes.

However, researchers have shown that people do not prefer chords that fully correspond to Pythagorean ratios. These ratios lose their role when people listen to instruments less familiar to Western musicians, such as gongs and bonangs.

Researchers created an online lab where more than 4000 people rated the pleasantness of chords.

The results showed that people prefer chords with small deviations from the Pythagorean ratio.

"There are many types of harmony, and different cultures have developed different harmonic systems," the researchers noted.

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