August 24, 2009

Musica Universalis - Music of the Spheres Part 3

Good ________ (insert time of the day)!

Glad to have you all back here for today’s topic. Oh, wait, I see a few heads missing. Don’t tell me I’ve lost some of you to math?! Nooooo! Why oh why did you leave me?

*Coughs a few times*

After learning of your impending genius two weeks ago, I want to talk about harmonies beyond music. That’s right. The proportion between “perfect” frequencies cannot just be observed in music but on a much more macroscopic level as well. . .

“The Pythagoreans used music to heal the body and to elevate the soul, yet they believed that earthly music was no more than a faint echo of the universal ‘harmony of the spheres’.” (Kepler and the Music of the Spheres).

So how does that work? Well, basically, each planet = different note. The note depends on the ratio of the planet’s orbit around the sun.

This approach to our world was taken up by Copernicus (known for having confronted the fundamental belief of an Earth-centered universe). He used it to construct a first model of our solar system, using the harmonic ratios to predict the celestial bodies’ circular course around the sun.

There was just one problem: when looked at closely, it appeared the planets weren’t following those circular orbits. . .exactly.

And that’s where Kepler comes in, but that’s another story for another (next--to be more precise) time!

In the meantime, try to figure out what else in our lives follows the same harmonic proportions as musical notes :) (yep, I figured we’d end the blog entry with a fun game^^).



  1. I posit the ratio of beer to scotch for the perfect night follows the same harmonic proportions. That proportion is 10 shots to 10 pints.

  2. Interesting notion that should be tested, methinks :)