Théodora Psychoyou, From psophos to noise: origins and transformations of the object in the 17th century

The presence — or absence — of terms denoting "noise" in the Greek, Latin and vernacular (essentially French) semantic fields is considered from the point of view of their respective theoretical traditions. While the Greek psophos accounts for the physical materiality of sound, the medieval musica speculativa neglects the matter. The 17th century causal — rational — approach revitalizes the topic: acoustics, a new scientific discipline that emerges during that period (the first chair at the French royal academy was established in 1700), is in charge of mapping a new field, wider than that of music, in which noise occupies a position that needs to be defined and theorized. The analysis of this object comes up against the limits of mathematical formulation and of univocity; subjectivity cannot be avoided and authorizes discourses on taste (personal, national, etc.) and an aesthetic approach of the pleasant or unpleasant nature of sound, of music, of noise.