Harmony of Spheres

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Robert Fludd's Monochord[1]

An idea that was widely held in the Middle Ages which associated each planet in the solar system with a particular note in the musical scale. The harmony of the spheres was based on the concept of analogy which is central to astrological thought, and it supported the idea that the intervals between the planets were related to the chromatic scale.

Among the most prominent proponents of this idea was William Shakespeare. He describes in his comedy "The Merchant of Venice":

Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.

See also

Cosmic rhythms

Weblinks

Bibliography

  • Joscelyn Godwin (ed.): The Harmony of the Spheres. A Sourcebook of the Pythagorean Tradition in Music Inner Traditions International, Rochester VT 1993, ISBN 0-89281-265-6.

Notes and References

  1. Fludd's so-called Monochord (from about 1600) illustrates the universe being built on planetary vibrations. About this the English occultist had a serious controversy with Kepler
  2. The suite was written between 1914 and 1916. Each movement of it is named after a planet of the Solar System and its corresponding astrological character as defined by Holst. See also MusicWeb: The Planets