Music of the Spheres
Author: Ronan, Colin A.
Source: Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Volume 1, Number 2, June 1976 , pp. 149-159(11)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
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Abstract:The relationships between music and astronomy begin with Greek approaches to an understanding of the cosmos, based on a sense of divine harmony. The work of Pythagoras in measuring the length of vibrating strings and the way in which he formulated a scale lead on to his concept of the musical harmony of the universe. The contributions of Plato and Ptolemy are followed by the work of Kepler, some 1400 years later. Kepler's concept of a harmony of the celestial spheres is discussed in some detail, with particular reference to his methods for calculating musical relationships and for applying accurate observations of planetary motions to them. The more recent attempts by Eddington to find an underlying pattern behind the universe, the attitudes of some mucisian-astronomers and astronomer-musicials, and last, the comparatively recent phenomenon of contemporary astronomically orientated music, are all discussed, especially works composed by Bedford, Stockhausen and Xenakis. A slightly fuller account of the music of Nørgård and a tentative opinion of its significance ends this essay concerned with two apparently so unrelated disciplines.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1976