July 21, 2009

Music Of The Spheres - Intro

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.” (Pythagoras)

I’ve already mentioned how music affects water and, thereby, ourselves through our DNA. But what is it about music then, that makes it “the universal language of mankind” (H. Wadsworth Longfellow)?

Or, more specifically, what key to our universe does music contain?

Centuries ago, a group of mathematicians/philosophers/astrologers/etc. in Ancient Greece lead by Pythagoras came up with the first theory (or at least the first one we currently know of) that linked music to the rest of the universe and has hereby been known as Music of the Spheres or the song of the angels.

“[The Pythagoreans] saw that the . . . ratios of musical scales were expressible in numbers [and that]. . .all things seemed to be modeled on numbers, and numbers seemed to be the first things in the whole of nature, they supposed the elements of number to be the elements of all things, and the whole heaven to be a musical scale and a number.” (Aristotle)

Ok, so technically, it sounds more like the universe boils down to math instead (The Matrix, anyone?), but math = music, right? So it really is just the same thing :)

Oh, before I forget, the next few chapters on this topic involve math. However, I’m not too sure if you’re all too keen on seeing math equations (which I’d simplify a maximum and keep to a minimum) on this blog, so I’ve created a survey (see left column, below the “Subscribe To Blog” section), which will end on August 7, at midnight.

Now, let’s get back to our topic at hand.

It is said that the Pythagoreans (a secret society following the teachings of said Pythagoras) used music for a number of things, including healing (oh, did you know that studies show cows produce better milk after listening to Mozart?). But that wasn't the only application of music they used.

In ancient cosmology, the planets were seen as spheres that corresponded to different notes on a grand musical scale where the tones they emitted corresponded to the ratio of their respective orbits and rates of rotation. These had a deep impact on mathematics, architecture and art, astronomy and astrology.

How? More detailed explanations will follow in more posts.


PS: if you do already have questions though, please feel free to put them in the “Comments” section below.

PS2: don’t forget to fill out the survey on the left: math or no math in future posts?


  1. More math! More science! These are interesting topics you raise, but your arguments would be strengthened with some cold hard farts. I mean facts.

  2. Yes, this is just the intro to the whole theme, an actual philosophy. The math will help with the facts in future posts :)

  3. Math is perfect, but we are not perfect. I can relate to things more when there are flaws involved. I prefer emotions over calculations.

  4. True, but math can sometimes help explain some concepts better than a myriad of words. Just a few equations and, voila, the picture's clear as day :) And really, I wouldn't be using complicated math, just algebra for the most part.