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Music in Hebrew Writings from the Bible to the Early Seventeenth Century

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on three writings on Hebrew music theory from the early modern era: a sermon by Judah Moscato, a question to which Leon Modena replied in a response, and selected portions from a treatise by Abraham Portaleone. The tradition developed alongside ancient Greek and medieval Islamic and European writings on music, often drew from their subjects in a pattern of cultural and conceptual interchanges. The Hebrew theorists wavered between two views on the origins of music. Evidence for its Hebrew invention is in the verses from Genesis about Jubal as the father of those who handle the 'kinnor' and 'ugav' and his half-brother Tubal-cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. Yet the Greeks claimed Pythagoras as the inventor, a point to which the Hebrews accommodated by explaining that Hebrew music existed until the Flood, after which it had to be reinvented by the Greeks.

Keywords: Abraham Portaleone; European writings; Hebrew music theory; Jubal; Judah Moscato; Leon Modena

10.1163/9789004283640_002
/content/books/b9789004283640_002
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