The concept of the harmony of the spheres originated with the Pythagorean philosophers of ancient Greece. Using the ratios of the orbits of the planets, they drew analogies between music, mathematics, geometry and astronomy. Harmonies are also ratios, and so the orbits of the planets could be thought of as one giant harmony encompassing the solar system. But this music was not necessarily one of actual sound, but rather conceptual sound: a mental music using the power of the human brain to abstract reality and make connections between ideas.
The idea re-emerged with the likes of Johannes Kepler, whose ‘musica universalis’ again connected geometry, cosmology, astronomy, harmonics and music in one enormous and powerful concept.
‘Music of the Spheres' was written for A Midsummer Night's Drone, an event celebrating the summer solstice on the coast of Suffolk with a whole day of drones exploring the harmony of the spheres, from sunset to sunrise, organised by noise=noise. The piece uses the ratios between the average orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris as the basis of its harmonic development.
released June 20, 2011
Composed by Simon Jones
Cover art uses a NASA image of the Sun
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