Podcast Episode 45
Episode 45: Singing To The Music of The Spheres
"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has it's beaches, it's homeland and thoughts of it's own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
But the heart has it's seasons, it's evenings and songs of it's own"
Lyrics from "The Eyes of the World" by the Grateful Dead
"Jamie James calls his book “an anecdotal history of the symphony of science and its counterpoint. the wisdom of music.” This modest description belies the importance of what he has to say. His main contention is that, since the industrial revolution and the rise of Romanticism, science and music have lost an important dimension which pertained to both at a time when music and science were closely identified with each other. Pythagoras is, to some degree, a mythical figure, but he is generally credited with having linked mathematics with music by demonstrating that musical intervals could be expressed as ratios (octave 1:1, fifth 2.3, fourth 3:4, etc). Because of this link, cosmology was conceived as musical as well as mathematical. The universe was pictured as a series of revolving spheres; and it was logical to assume that such large bodies must make harmonious sounds in their revolutions. Hence the notion of the “music of the spheres.” Aristotle believed that men could not hear this wonderful music because the sound was present from birth, and therefore could not be distinguished from silence. Eighteen hundred years later, Shakespeare wrote that even the smallest celestial orb sang like an angel, “But whilst this muddy vesture of decay / Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.” The ancient Greeks believed that music was an important ingredient in education, and also an effective balm for the distressed mind. Plato stated that music was “a heaven-sent ally reducing to order and harmony any disharmony within us.” The followers of Pythagoras developed a' science of musical psychotherapy using a daily programme of songs and pieces for the lyre which made them alert in the morning, and then purged them of the day's cares and prepared them for prophetic and agreeable dreams when they went to sleep. Music was able to exert this restorative effect because it was able to reunite the alienated individual with cosmic harmony. The Pythagoras-Platonic view, writes James, supported “what we may call the great theme — the belief that the cosmos is a sublimely harmonious system guided by a Supreme Intelligence, and that man has a place preordained and eternal in that system,” which later became known as the Great Chain of Being. It is a vision of serene order which can be described in terms of mathematical music or musical mathematics, since both are expressions of ordered movement and ordered relations."
"Acceptance of the “great theme” bestows divine status upon music, mathematics, and science in general. Although Kepler disposed of the notion of the spheres by demonstrating that the paths of the planets round the sun were elliptical rather than circular, Newton still believed that his own work consisted in deciphering clues left by God concerning the riddle of the universe. Indeed, he was compelled to include God in his calculations about gravity. Newton had abandoned the idea of the interstellar ether, and was left with what he called “an absurdity”: the idea that bodies..."
Kepler and Ptolemy make sweet music...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonices_Mundi#Content • http://jamiejamesauthor.com/music-spheres/reviews.html
"The Wake of The Flood"
"wake (n.2) "state of wakefulness," Old English -wacu (in nihtwacu "night watch"), related to watch(n.); and partly from Old Norse vaka "vigil, eve before a feast" (which is related to vaka "be awake" and cognate with Old High German wahta "watch, vigil," Middle Dutch wachten"to watch, guard"), from PIE root *weg- "to be strong, be lively." Meaning "a sitting up at night with a corpse" is attested from early 15c. (the verb in this sense is recorded from mid-13c.; as a noun lichwake is from late 14c.)."
"The custom largely survived as an Irish activity. Wakeman (c. 1200), which survives as a surname, was Middle English for "watchman."