Galileo\’s father Vincenzo was not only a lutenist but a theoretician of music, who published an influential book. According to the usual narrative — I haven\’t read it myself — he was important in the development of the new musical ideas that replaced the Pythagorean mathematical perfection of Renaissance musical theory. For instance, it had been known since Pythagoras that the consonant intervals were characterized by ratios of small numbers, such as 2:1 for the octave and 3:2 for the fifth. Buy the time you get to 7:1, it sounds nasty. So, he asked, what about 1,499:1,000? Horrible sound, involving such large numbers, but in fact it sounds just like a fifth. (Warbling very slowly, of course)

He also did experiments and was the first to establish the relation of string tension to pitch, which is a square-root relation. This may have been the first non-linear law of physics.

History of Science speculations of the \”like father, like son\” category are left for the reader.

And Borodin not only was a chemist but differed from virtually everyone else then or later in considering his music (such fripperies as Prince Igor) a sideline to his real work. He quite annoyed his colleagues (so \’tis said), who were trying to build the Russian national style, freeing it of foreign influences, which I presume to mean French. His friend Rimsky-Korsakoff visited him one day and found him in the laboratory, busy \”distilling a vacuum into nothingness\” and was not pleased.

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