image EL_W1_8_01
Image number: RS.15974
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Theory of harmony


14 May 1664


Unknown, Artist

Object type

Archive reference number

Manuscript page number




height (page): 315mm
width (page): 195mm



Figure and musical scale illustrating proportions of harmony in John Wallis's letter to Henry Oldenburg dated 14 May 1664. It was read at the meeting of the Royal Society on 18 May 1664.

Copis can be found in LBO/1/152-53 and RBC/7/283.

Object history

At the meeting of the Royal Society on 18 May 1664, ‘The secretary produced two letters written to him from Oxford by Dr. Wallis, one of May 7 1664, and the other of May 14, containing his thoughts upon the musical proposals of Mr. Berchensha. It was ordered, that these letters should be referred to the president to peruse and consider them, and to make report thereof to the society; and that Dr. Cotton should be added to the musical committee appointed April 20, 1664’ (Birch 1:425-26).

John Birchensha’s paper on music had been read earlier on 27 April 1664, ‘wherein he gave an account of the desiderata of music, and undertook to bring the art of music to that perfection that even those, who could neither sing nor play, should be able, by his rules, to make good airs, and compose two, three, or more parts artificially’ (Birch 1:418).

Related Fellows

John Wallis (1616-1703, British), Mathematician
Henry Oldenburg (1612-1677, German), Scientific correspondent

Associated place

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