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Quadrivium: The Four Classical Liberal Arts of Number, Geometry, Music, & Cosmology

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The quadrivium-the classical curriculum-comprises the four liberal arts of number, geometry, music, and cosmology. It was studied from antiquity to the Renaissance as a way of glimpsing the nature of reality. Geometry is number in space; music is number in time; and comology expresses number in space and time. Number, music, and geometry are metaphysical truths: life The quadrivium-the classical curriculum-comprises the four liberal arts of number, geometry, music, and cosmology. It was studied from antiquity to the Renaissance as a way of glimpsing the nature of reality. Geometry is number in space; music is number in time; and comology expresses number in space and time. Number, music, and geometry are metaphysical truths: life across the universe investigates them; they foreshadow the physical sciences. Quadrivium is the first volume to bring together these four subjects in many hundreds of years. Composed of six successful titles in the Wooden Books series-Sacred Geometry, Sacred Number, Harmonograph, The Elements of Music, Platonic & Archimedean Solids, and A Little Book of Coincidence-it makes ancient wisdom and its astonishing interconnectedness accessible to us today. Beautifully produced in six different colors of ink, Quadrivium will appeal to anyone interested in mathematics, music, astronomy, and how the universe works.


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The quadrivium-the classical curriculum-comprises the four liberal arts of number, geometry, music, and cosmology. It was studied from antiquity to the Renaissance as a way of glimpsing the nature of reality. Geometry is number in space; music is number in time; and comology expresses number in space and time. Number, music, and geometry are metaphysical truths: life The quadrivium-the classical curriculum-comprises the four liberal arts of number, geometry, music, and cosmology. It was studied from antiquity to the Renaissance as a way of glimpsing the nature of reality. Geometry is number in space; music is number in time; and comology expresses number in space and time. Number, music, and geometry are metaphysical truths: life across the universe investigates them; they foreshadow the physical sciences. Quadrivium is the first volume to bring together these four subjects in many hundreds of years. Composed of six successful titles in the Wooden Books series-Sacred Geometry, Sacred Number, Harmonograph, The Elements of Music, Platonic & Archimedean Solids, and A Little Book of Coincidence-it makes ancient wisdom and its astonishing interconnectedness accessible to us today. Beautifully produced in six different colors of ink, Quadrivium will appeal to anyone interested in mathematics, music, astronomy, and how the universe works.

30 review for Quadrivium: The Four Classical Liberal Arts of Number, Geometry, Music, & Cosmology

  1. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    This was a lot of fun. I would have given it five stars if it hadn't been for the New Agey stuff that popped in from time to time. But at the same time, this book provided a wealth of information about the world we live in.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    Fascinating. Shows an extraordinary and intriguing beauty and order in the universe. Why, for instance, do musical harmonic intervals show up in planetary orbits? Or why the number of leaves on many species of growing plants can be predicted by one simple sequence of numbers? The universe doesn't appear to be so random. Recommended for artists who don't get science and scientists who don't get art.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I was both fascinated and frustrated by this book. I found much of it interesting, but each topic went from simple to complex quickly, and I needed to read it more slowly to absorb more. The book is has written explanations on the left-side page and illustrations on the right. Often, the illustrations would've been easier to make out if they'd been printed on larger paper: sometimes the captions were too small for me to read even with reading glasses on. But if the point was to pique my I was both fascinated and frustrated by this book. I found much of it interesting, but each topic went from simple to complex quickly, and I needed to read it more slowly to absorb more. The book is has written explanations on the left-side page and illustrations on the right. Often, the illustrations would've been easier to make out if they'd been printed on larger paper: sometimes the captions were too small for me to read even with reading glasses on. But if the point was to pique my curiosity about the Quadrivium, it succeeded: I'd love to understand this better.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    Curious person? Then I would suggest reading this book. I mean seriously, who the hell wouldn't want to learn about Epigrams, Phyllotaxis, or Li Symmetries.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    As much as I'd love to, I couldn't quite give this book 5 stars. The first few chapters are beautifully written and illustrated but some of the later stuff is much more dry (though equally as fascinating in some respects). I'd need to give the chapters on music onward another read to truly appreciate it I think. Still, it's overall an astounding book, highly recommend it to anyone with a general interest in philosophy, science, or music.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Pearl

    An incredibly fun, well illustrated and densely packed read. Anyone will enjoy, but this isn't for the faint of heart; there's a lot of information packed into these pages and sometimes you'll want to reread the same section or go back to a previous chapter to refresh your memory. A wonderful look at the classical arts - geometry, arithmetic, music and cosmology, Quadrivium connects dots and expounds on the math and beauty constantly swimming in our world's ether.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Beverly J.

    Can I give this more than 5 stars?? oh my goodness did I relish in this book. There was a whole hell of a lot I did not understand, but I am more than ready, willing and able to delve into more of this author's work. Bring it on!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Britt

    Numerology is not part of the quadrivium. Instead of covering the basics of the oldest, most successful form of education, the writers have inserted their hippy jargon to scandalize and corrupt impressionable minds. I am so sick of hippies.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Cummings

    I thought I had received a classical education. Then I found this book...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    Fascinating book on the Quadrivium. I learned a lot from it. At times the book went beyond my ability to understand it (particularly in the geometry and music sections), but it was accessible for the most part. The biggest thing I gained from this, however, was not specific knowledge about the Quadrivium, but a better grasp on the larger point of the Quadrivium and how the Quadrivium is meant to be viewed (or: rather, how the Quadrivium is to reshape our own views and feelings). At the end of Fascinating book on the Quadrivium. I learned a lot from it. At times the book went beyond my ability to understand it (particularly in the geometry and music sections), but it was accessible for the most part. The biggest thing I gained from this, however, was not specific knowledge about the Quadrivium, but a better grasp on the larger point of the Quadrivium and how the Quadrivium is meant to be viewed (or: rather, how the Quadrivium is to reshape our own views and feelings). At the end of the day, it's more of a "here's a bunch of cool facts about the Quadrivium" book than anything else. But boy are the facts cool. And boy does it do a good job of using the facts to reveal a mindset, and not just present facts for facts' sake. Rating: 3.5 Stars (Good).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hunter Ross

    Interesting book, which is really four separate books. Some sections where I am strong like Geometry and Numbers felt like there was not enough information, others where I am clueless especially music I felt lost. Probably just me but felt like in some sections I needed way more detail and in others way more explanation. Still, very interesting!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brayton Dawson

    The book will show you how beautiful and interconnected our world really is

  13. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Hiland

    Among my collection of books sits Quadrivium, so far more of a curiosity than a tome I refer to with endearment. Like the two books on topology, this volume is something I approach with trepidation, the hope of totally understanding its content long since dashed. Its like trying to understand a cloud- hard to visualize or quantify, yet there, all the same, challenging me to understand much more than its function or existence. And even that is tough sledding. The easiest place to start is with a Among my collection of books sits “Quadrivium,” so far more of a curiosity than a tome I refer to with endearment. Like the two books on topology, this volume is something I approach with trepidation, the hope of totally understanding its content long since dashed. It’s like trying to understand a cloud- hard to visualize or quantify, yet there, all the same, challenging me to understand much more than its function or existence. And even that is tough sledding. The easiest place to start is with a description of the form and format. The title is followed by a subtitle: “The Four Classical Liberal Arts of Number, Geometry, Music, and Cosmology,” which pretty much sums up the content. Published by Walker & Company, the 410-page book measures 6” wide by 7.5” tall and 1.5” thick. “Quadrivium” is part of a series called “Wooden Books.” (Apparently, there are two other books in the series: “Trivium” (covering Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric), and “Sciencia” (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Astronomy.) Judging by stiff nature of the Quad’s 3/16”-thick cover, it could very well be made of some wood product. But an online search reveals nothing about “Quad’s” construction. Notes opposite the title page do an admirable job of earth-friendly virtue-signaling with the statement that the paper used by Walker & Company consists of “natural, recyclable products made from wood grown in well-managed forests,” and that “manufacturing processes conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin.” Thank goodness for the reassurance. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to own a book culled from mismanaged forests. The cover- similar to the book’s standard font color- is dark brown (though the internal font for the body text is closer to sepia. The title and subtitle embody a subtle glow, as if laser-etched, the words surrounded by scores of arcane and geometrical symbols, thus lending the tome an eternal or mystical feel. As for the internal contents, the choice of sepia is troublesome. While not difficult to read, the graphics tend to be washed-out, at times, lessening their impact. But given the wealth of information presented, it’s a shortcoming we’ll just have to live with. Maybe the color cut down on printing costs. The contents are divided into six sections, each one originally published at an earlier time; the dates range from 2001-2009, and the collection itself released in 2010. Book I is “Sacred Number” (Miranda Lundy); Book II, “Sacred Geometry” (Miranda Lundy); Book III, “Platonic & Archimedean Symbols” (Daud Sutton); Book IV, “Harmonograph” (Anthony Ashton); Book V, “The Elements of Music” (Jason Martineau); and Book VI, “A Little Book of Coincidence.” As for the book’s nature and intent, the editor states that it is three things: a rare treasure, immortal, and universal. The foreword informs us that in its original state, the Quadrivium was “first formulated and taught by Pythagoras as the Tetrakyts around 500 BC,” and that it was “the first European schooling structure that honed education down to seven essential subjects.” As I read all of this, I am reminded of why I’ve never gotten too far with the book in previous attempts: it’s a reference book, not exactly the kind of thing you curl up with for an evening of easy reading. But it is what it is. For the visually-oriented learner, every section is accompanied by one or more illustrations. And the illustrations themselves are interesting, for they represent the old and the new, as well as approaching the respective topic from several different directions to aid in understanding- not that every subject is readily-accessible, despite visual aids. To delve further into description of Quadrivium’s contents is futile, for it’s similar to giving an overview of a dictionary or encyclopedia- for this is a reference book. That being said, it’s one of the more fascinating examples of a reference book that there is. Where else will one fond a section on games, where the hopscotch diagram shows the starting square as “Earth,” and the final two destination areas as “Heaven,” just past “Hell”? Or instructions for building your own harmonograph? Or yet another attempt to explain the “circle of fifths,” a section of musical theory that continues to baffle me? Then there’s the “Little Book of Coincidence in the Solar System,” a compendium of galactic patterns and parallels that may challenge a reader’s beliefs about the Big Bang theory and evolution as much as it might support them. As if all of this weren’t enough, the final section is a cornucopia of magic squares, early number systems, symbology incarnate in “Some Numbers of Things” and a “Select Glossary of Numbers,” ruler and compass constructions, scary-looking Platonic Solids formulas, equally intimidating square roots for harmonic constants and equations, and planetary tunings (whatever the hell those are). After I’d owned the book for a few years, we moved to SoCal. One day I was visiting with Seth, a local transient who was surprisingly well-spoken and educated- not to mention surprisingly well-versed in hygiene, having some secret knowledge of accessible bathing facilities his fellow hoboes were not privy to. (Yes, I said “privy,” so get over it.) The fact that he was also a paranoid schizophrenic- though a high-functioning one- didn’t deter me from inviting him to lunch, one afternoon. After we spent time over a meal, discussing everything from religion to rock music, it became apparent that he had some cognitive issues that hampered his ability to control his emotions. Having repeatedly assured me that he loathed books- a trait he extended to most humans he came in contact with- his increasingly erratic behavior indicated to me that it was time for him to go. As he headed out the door, I noticed that he had my copy of “Quadrivium” surreptitiously tucked under one arm. I hadn’t seen him grab it, but now I asked for it back. He apologetically handed it over with an unconvincing “How did that get there?” look on his face. Ever since then, I’ve thought of Seth every time I grab “Quadrivium,” for another go at it. If the tome is good enough for a brilliant, high-functioning schizophrenic, it will always have a place on my bookshelf.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Niklas Spitz

    Aside from the content, what strikes me about this edition, is the quality of the print, elegant graphics, paper and binding. This volume is in itself an understated classic and feels wonderful to hold and behold. Very readable in bite sized chunks, where I have found other books on sacred geometry and number to be a little arcane or inscrutable. This works its way progressively from 1st principles to the dynamic poetry of the music of the spheres. (I'm currently playing my way through Sacred Aside from the content, what strikes me about this edition, is the quality of the print, elegant graphics, paper and binding. This volume is in itself an understated classic and feels wonderful to hold and behold. Very readable in bite sized chunks, where I have found other books on sacred geometry and number to be a little arcane or inscrutable. This works its way progressively from 1st principles to the dynamic poetry of the music of the spheres. (I'm currently playing my way through Sacred Geometry (2nd chapter) but gagging to get ahead into music and cosmology, having to hold my horses to savour the journey and deepen comprehension...) Life affirming and awe inspiring.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Yousra Nawara

    Started reading this book... Didn't understand shit! Ya'll be tripping this book is like reading absolute gibberish

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    4 1/2 stars. Fascinating book. Astronomy section was the weakest which was a shame. The music section was the best. A book to pick up and read a section or two rather than reading straight through.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex Simu

    Superficial books for superficial times. How to be "deep" without taking the depth. The book touches on multiple ideas and notions mixing mystical elements with science and philosophy but does not treat any of them seriously. More or less like you would be surfing on the internet for cool stuff related to music and astrology. It works great for people who want to sound cool when they talk about their passion for music and pseudo-mysticism. For anybody interested of the real information this book Superficial books for superficial times. How to be "deep" without taking the depth. The book touches on multiple ideas and notions mixing mystical elements with science and philosophy but does not treat any of them seriously. More or less like you would be surfing on the internet for cool stuff related to music and astrology. It works great for people who want to sound cool when they talk about their passion for music and pseudo-mysticism. For anybody interested of the real information this book is touching on I would recommend reading Plato, Rodney Collin and P.D. Ouspensky. Mystics treat planets as celestial living bodies, but from there and talking about Venus as "she" and planets "kissing" it is a long way. Sometimes the language used seams borrowed from the popular "healthy smoothy" youtube channels. All in all, better have a look in it at the store then decide if you need it on your shelf. Also it seams to have a great marketing, for every real review posted they have somebody writing a 5 star review to compensate. Just check it for yourself and see if is worth buying it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Clint Joseph

    Really, I'd probably give this more of a 3.5 stars. Wooden Books has some great, simple books like this that give you the main idea of things without bogging you down too terribly much. Kind of like all those books you see for sale on the tables at Books A Million. I don't have a strong background in much of anything discussed here, so it doesn't get too terribly complex for somebody who isn't in the know, like myself. I think, to be fair, I read this companies books too quickly (no chapter is Really, I'd probably give this more of a 3.5 stars. Wooden Books has some great, simple books like this that give you the main idea of things without bogging you down too terribly much. Kind of like all those books you see for sale on the tables at Books A Million. I don't have a strong background in much of anything discussed here, so it doesn't get too terribly complex for somebody who isn't in the know, like myself. I think, to be fair, I read this companies books too quickly (no chapter is over two pages) and end up confusing myself, or just overloading my brain with things like music theory to the point it all gets mushed together. So, the lower rating is probably partially my fault. These would be a good dip into subjects before you invest time in a longer study.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mikel

    I really like it as a reference book. However, many of the concepts are addressed too briefly (one page per) and are often described in a way that makes them sound more complicated than they are (i.e. when they first address 'squaring the circle' on the page 'Elevenses'.) I did buy it because, as I said in the beginning, it acts as quick reference book. Just understand that you will have to do some additional research/digging on your own. It acts more as an outline or guide.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kenzie

    This book follows the classic liberal arts subjects of number, shape, cosmos, and music, and it shows how they all inform each other. It's beautiful, with text on the verso and image on the recto, however, because each spread is a new subject, the text was sometimes too abbreviated. It gives a good overview, but doesn't go in depth enough on anything. It was a great introduction, and I'm interested in learning more.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Austin Hoffman

    Fascinating. A wealth of information and wonder at the mysteries of the universe. This does not read like a standard book, but makes more sense as a kind of reference or encyclopedia. There were many things way over my head, but I found it all interesting. The graphics and diagrams on every other page were delightful and well-done. This would be a good introduction to see what the quadrivium can be, but you would need another source to teach these arts.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pedro Anacleto

    In a whole different way, this book teaches us a little bit of the beginning from understanding what numbers really are and what do they stand for. Correlating the Mathematics with the inner beauty of Music Theory and Geometry patterns. I use this one as a reference book to get explanations from difficult subjects and breaking them down to demonstrate beginners the exquisite meaning of what we call Mathematics.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marco

    I liked the packaging; that was the first thing that caught my eyes. I also liked the images in it. But, there is not much information offered. If a chapter picks your interest, you will have to research t somewhere else, on your own, since this book doesn't offer references. For this I rated it a 2.5 stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Belue

    What a beautiful, extraordinary book. It parses out the basic tenets of what the mystery schools of medieval times taught - geometry, arithmetic, music and astronomy - which explained the world then and still does today.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    So much fun, so useful for homeschooling. Me love.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Taylor

    Almost all the answers can be found in this book. They just need someone to synthesise the ideas and see the overall picture, the unifying force that permeates all four of these disciplines.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Jay

    Excellent intro into how numbers arent merely of mans creation, but that which references a divine influence within all things. Excellent intro into how numbers aren’t merely of man’s creation, but that which references a divine influence within all things.

  28. 5 out of 5

    A J

    also educational

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dan Nguyen

    Fun and easy to understand.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Kung Dreyfus

    This book is an extraordinary creative tool. As a designer and artist, this concise presentation of the Quadrivium has become a frequent source of inspiration. Highly recommended!

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