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Music of the Spheres

Music of the Spheres. The perfect harmonies created by the friction between the moving spheres of Greek (and later Christian) cosmology. It was originally a Pythagorean theory, expounded by Plato (Republic 10. 11) but rejected by Aristotle (On the Heavens 2. 9. 12). Boethius (On the Principles of Music) laid out the relations between the music of the spheres which is inaudible to human ears (musica mundana), the harmonies of a correspondingly well-ordered human life (musica humana), and the music of instruments (musica instrumenta constituta): humans mediate between the perfect harmonies of the heavenly spheres and the potential chaos and disorder of the lower worlds. Although the Copernican revolution destroyed the cosmology, the underlying idea of attainable harmonies persisted, as can be seen, e.g., in Thomas Browne (1605–82), Religio Medici.

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